Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day eight: Structure and procrastinate.

That was an unfortunate rhyme. Two things about structure.

The first is that the title of this blog gives some indication that it's a step-by-step program or that there is some linear logic to my posts. Alas, no. I hope it is helpful in some way, to someone, but this isn't intended to be a specific course. It's not a map so much as a solar system. There is a logic inherent in its existence, and it can be used to serve a specific goal, like finding north, but it is not going to tell you how to be an artist. Only you can figure that out for yourself.

The second thing about structure is that everything has one. Every artist has a foundation that influences what they do. One of the things that I think people often learn about in art school is what their structure looks like and how to use it more effectively. No matter how long there has been art, and artists, one persistent myth is that of divine inspiration; that we can only work when we are stung by some mythical lightning bug. That is bullshit. How an artist works depends on their foundation, and most of the artists I respect most don't work that way.

Curiously enough, they do consistently procrastinate. I think of it as a time to let things stew. To play and walk around the edges.  I often get in go mode and push the work too fast. I miss important details, and skimp in areas I shouldn't. Procrastinating is also a great way to see things you wouldn't normally pay attention to, because you're actively looking for a distraction.

So what does structure look like if it can include anything? That depends on a lot of different things. When I'm trying to figure out something ambiguous, like that question, I tend to answer it with a lot of other questions.

How do you make your art?
How long does it take?
What do you do when you are planning to make something?
Do you read or research?
Do you have to quickly draw or write something out, or do you just let it sit in your brain for a while?
Do you have to act on it immediately, or do you create to-do lists?
Do you need a deadline to finish a piece or a body of work, or do you need a vague expanse of time? Why?
Do you work on one thing at a time or a lot of things all at once?
Do you work quickly or slowly?
Do you listen to music while you work?
Does that affect what you make or how you make it?

I could keep asking questions, but you get the picture. Another important part of figuring out your structure is that some people are overwhelmed by questions like these. They just figure out what works for them by practicing. I think that's why I like to call it an art practice, because you learn through continually doing, not thinking about doing.

Thank you again for listening! I am going to go now, because I wrote this while procrastinating on a project that is due tomorrow morning. :)

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