Motivation – the Train that Never Arrives

“We always have time for the things we need to do,
But never enough time for the things we ought to do.”

I have been waiting for the right motivation all my life. I have created many stories and characters in my head.  I’ve been dreaming of the day when I would finally finish my masterpiece. Then it hit me: Will I ever get it done? Where is my Motivation? 

Thinking is not doing. I know this. The above quote is from a friend and mentor who warned me about this nearly forty years ago. Still, it has taken me a very long time to truly understand what he was trying to express to me.

Why does motivation arrive for what I need to do and not for what I ought to do? It’s because writing, with the aim of publishing, is a risky business and the survival instinct in humans is all about reducing risks. Do I want to stand out from the crowd? Sure, I do. But, only in theory. Just thinking about how it will open myself up to public criticism makes me want to stay in bed all day safely hidden under the blankets.

This fear of risk-taking is the same reason why so few people do anything out of the ordinary. They fear starting their own businesses or speaking in public. It’s so much easier to simply keep our heads down and do the things people expect me to do. Mowing the lawn or washing the dishes may not be pleasant things, but they are familiar things to do, comfortable things. But when I up my pen – ink or digital – to begin something new that fear begins well up in my chest. To make it go away, I begin to look for the things I “need to do.” The fear subsides, but the desire to write continues to gnaw away in my heart and mind.

Motivation is never going to arrive. At age 61, I know that now. I must push on without it.

I wonder will it get easier? Will obscurity be my future? If so, I am afraid of nothing. Will fame cure that fear? Doubtful. Most famous people say celebrity status only made all their insecurities worse. What if the worse happens and I’m humiliated? Well, I’m old enough to have been there already – so what am I really afraid of? I think it’s a phantom fear and that’s how I must think about it to continue on.

How will I do it? I have thought about it a lot these past few months. And now when I start to recognize that terrible, debilitating fear of the risk welling up, I try to take courage and push that fear away.  I must concentrate on what I want to write. I must dare to make time for my art and do it regularly. Lastly, I remind myself: I need to do what I ought to do.

On the Gladiator Games in DC this Week

Two big fails:

1. Men shouldn’t use their virginity to defend themselves. They can defend a woman’s honor, but not themselves. Just don’t do it. It’s not a good look.

2. Women, by the age of 53, should know what “exculpatory” means. Which explains why she provided the names of witnesses who didn’t back her up. Besides, that, naming your “friend” before asking her? Doesn’t say much about your friendship.

If I were advised to do either of these things, I would have told them to go to hell.

We Will Be Gods: Can Humanity Live Forever?

With the death of Stephen Hawking this week we are reminded of his warning to humanity that we must colonize the universe or face extinction. The reason we must leave Earth is that staying here is too risky for humans. Asteroids, a sudden burst of solar activity, or our own self-destructive behavior threatens the human race at any moment. The idea is that we leave the nest, Earth, and spread out into the universe increasing our survival chances.

This idea was certainly a popular one among Baby Boomers. We grew up with Science Fiction stories about humans populating the universe and eventually evolving into immortal beings. This was a comforting idea for children who grew up in the Cold War era where the fear of sudden nuclear annihilation was constantly lurking in our young minds. Naturally, we looked for ways to overcome that threat. But, is this really the future of humanity or an unrealistic belief system built on an instinctive human desire to defeat death? Is all that is necessary for humans to evolve into gods is to give us enough time?

Elon Musk seems to believe that space travel is the right path for humanity. I don’t doubt he’ll have many volunteers ready to commit themselves to a suicidal flight to Mars. But, why are they volunteering? Is it for adventure or for a mythological future they believe in?

I’m all for adventure and pushing the limits of human achievement, but I wonder at an effort that promises so much about a future we can’t possibly know.

 

 

Tidal Wave – Art For Non-Artists

 

I think one of the obstacles for those who are learning to draw or paint when they are adults is that they are overwhelmed with the vast number of objects they want to learn to create. We worry, we don’t have the time (perhaps we feel we are running out of time). This can create such an intense anxiety one is apt to quit out of sheer frustration over where to begin.

Children have an advantage over adults because they draw what they want when they want. They do not worry about “running out of time. They are not worried about getting on to the next thing before because that is what children do – they are learning a great number of new things every day. There’s always tomorrow.

Try to adopt that childlike attitude. Art doesn’t come to anyone overnight. Instead of trying everything at once – pick one thing you love.  If you love the mountains – draw mountains. If it’s the city – draw cityscapes.  Cars – then study that. That way – even if it gets tough or you are down about other matters, you can escape to your own artistic space with images that give you peace.

The next thing to do is find artistic styles you like. Don’t spend a lot of time with a style because you think it’s good, but doesn’t appeal to you. Choose ones that speak to you. Find some version of that style that you can imitate. Eventually you’ll find the one that’s your own.

By choosing subjects and styles that you want to imitate – you’ll begin to collect resources that you can use. But, there is one more thing to think about: There are many great art teachers and aids out there, but not any one method works for everyone. I know from homeschooling my six kids that everyone has a different learning style. Don’t stick with a method that doesn’t work for you – even if other people say it’s the best – if you aren’t getting anywhere with it. Try another method until you start to make progress.  You are unique. Remember that.

I am finding that the Zen Doodle community (on Facebook and Youtube) are great places to start. They give a new artist freedom to draw without judgment. And this one needs in abundance when starting out. But, they are limited in other areas such as perspective and lighting. For now, I’m not too worried about those things, as I need the encouragement to practice what I have learned. My point is that the more you draw or paint, the more you understand that the teachers are talking about when they speak about fundamentals.  At first it all seems like magic, but the more you do “art” the more you see “art”. It’s a strange process of training your hands, your eyes, and your brain.

For me, I love the ocean. I have no idea why, but I do. So, for now, that is what I am focusing on: real and imaginary ocean scenes.

The above painting (Tidal Wave) was done using the software program: Artrage. I wish I had a studio working with real brushes and real paints, but for now this will have to do. This was done in Artrage 4. Recently, I bought their upgrade to Version 5. I’m a little nervous about learning new tools. But I also can’t wait to try it out.

I used the filler tool (blend mode – sky preset), the roller tool, the spray tool, and the square oil brush. I found a picture that I liked on the internet and used it as a guide. There is an option to import images onto your working space. Don’t be afraid to use other pictures as guides for your own work.

I’m sure I couldn’t reproduce all the steps that I did to create this image, but I did enjoy doing it.  I know I’m a long way from being “good”, but at the moment I’m just happy to be able produce art that makes me happy.

Cheers!

For more on posts on Art for Non Artists (AFNA), go HERE.

Best Laid Plans…February Fail

So, figuring I’d have more time to blog with this new job, I predicted that I’d be here more than I have. Seems I spoke too soon.

It turned out I do have more time and energy, but I also had such a large back load of things that needed to be done at home (plus a few minor family crises), that I haven’t been able to live up to my new resolution.

However, I have been writing and working on new things, so let’s see if March turns out to be a better blogging month. I’m going to give it my best shot. 🙂