Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Contemplation of the world around us

I have been in a creative funk the past few days. I dumped a lot into a project that saw absolutely no return, and consequently was very discouraged by the result. In truth, I have probably taken it a bit harder than in reality I should have. However, the resulting slump has left me with some time to think about things, and that's never a bad place to be.

During this time I have drawn or painted absolutely nothing. In a way, it feels liberating, and I have used the time to do other things around the house, which I'm sure my wife will appreciate.

A few days ago I stumbled across this article on the New York Times :: Reviving the Lost Art of Naming the World. After reading it, I was left with a strong desire to do something I normally do anyway - that is, observe the world around us. I thought about how much time we spend in front of the screen viewing the world through a filter - not truly engaged with it. When I was a child, I couldn't fathom not being out in the muck and dirt and trees and shrubs. It was my world. I remember going hiking for hours at least, the full day until sunset usually, in the Ventura foothills in California. I did a lot of trespassing in those days, but really, there was no one there to say we couldn't. I remember the chaparral, dry gullies, and rattlesnakes and lizards. Poison oak and avocado trees ... The idea of being something apart form this never even entered my mind.

Living in the North West now as I do, observing the world is still very much a part of my life. I think, to truly be an effective illustrator, and artist, it is something that we have to do. And really, I would be surprised if an artist didn't do this. Being aware of your environment, where you live, the creatures that inhabit that world - these are the seed for creativity. And if you're someone who enjoys creating new worlds, as I am, where better a place to start than in our own backyard?


  1. i live on orcas island and just came accross some of your drawings at enzo's. i can appreciate what you mean about observing our surroundings, using our senses, and the inspiration that comes. i've been in a funk creatively, adjusting to a different lifestyle over the past year. it helps me in a way to hear you say these things.

  2. Hey Dave,

    Thanks for the comment and sharing. I'm glad that my meanderings were of some help. The best thing (for me) for getting out of the creative funk is just to ride out for a few days, and then get drawing again. Usually things need to have a little bit of time to settle in.

    All the best,