"er something" (top) and "Peanut" (bottom) by Victoria Stiefvater
Crayola Markers on some vaguely manilla colored support.
This picture that my 4 year old daughter did today sort of illustrates my current mood perfectly. I really wanted to start my newest novel, even though I've got other work to do yet on my novels under contract, so I got up at 5:30 this morning to get some time in. And now, ummmm hours later (don't make me do the math, but I've been awake awhile) that's sort of what my thought bubble looks like.
Anyway, vague sleepiness puts me in a thoughtful mood, and looking at some colored pencil art online made me even more thoughtful, and then looking at Victoria's drawings pushed me over the edge.
Which edge, you wisely ask? The rhetorical question edge. The one where I look at these drawings and at mine and at the colored pencil pieces online and I ask myself "when the lights go out, am I still an artist?"
Think about it. Do you remember when you were a kid and the power would go out and you'd be so bored that you'd eat your own brother just for the entertainment value? And your mother/ father/ creepy Aunt figure would give you a pack of paper, a couple crayons, and an oil lamp, and you'd go to town. Or at least, if you were me, you did. I was a tremendous doodler as a kid and even through college. I sort of got known for it in a bunch of my college classes, because my professors suspected that I wasn't paying attention (they were wrong) and that I had more interest in my art than in their subject matter (they were right).
I suspect that most of you, dear readers, were the same. We drew anything we wanted all the time, just to see what happened. And if the power went out -- well, nothing changed. We were still the same. Our mojo still flowed freely from pen to paper. But now, as an adult, can we say the same? Or are we married to that reference photo on the computer or our projector or our lightbox? How much of our style is straight-up realism and how much of it is actual self-expression?
So here's the really crucial question you need to ask yourself.
In the event of a zombie apocolypse where we lost all power, would you still be the artist you are with the lights on?
I didn't like the answer that I had for that question. I think the answer for most of us colored pencil artists is that we are not the same artists with the lights on as with the lights off. For starters, if zombies snacked on my brain, I'm not sure how that would affect my art anyway. (I guess it depends on which part of my brain). But for . . . um, finishers . . . I also didn't like that I had to truthfully answer that question "no." It's why I'm spending my artistic down-time throwing myself into my sketchbook, drawing from life, doodling, developing a style in a very organic, Maggie-centric rather than photo-centric way.
How about you guys? Would you be the same artist if the zombies cut your power lines? Does it bother you if the answer's no?