Getting down to work in art... / by Jeannine Cook

I wonder if everyone else has a hard time getting down to work again after the holiday period? As an artist, I find it is so easy just to let the days slip by, to think about what I am going to do, do office work, drift and dream...

Then I reread a quote I had noted some time ago from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. She remarked crisply, "Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite - getting something down." Ho - ho! Time to get doing... to stop devising the way to do something new and different, and just get down to trying to do it.

It is, in essence, putting into practise what I was drawing - namely getting the fire going again... like this silverpoint drawing I did, which I entitled Flames of Oak.

What to do and how to do it are perpetual questions that each artist asks of him or herself. Even beyond those questions, there are other considerations, such as one that was evoked by a thoughtful friend recently. She was describing walking along a beach and collecting sharks' teeth with delight. She remarked that she tended to disdain shells for most of them had some imperfection. She then questioned her own judgement - who was she to judge of the merit of a shell, its state and level of beauty? And how did one know when something was beautiful? What are the criteria that the definition of beauty should meet?

These are all questions every creative person grapples with at one point or another. I replied that I thought the definition of beauty was, to a great degree, dependent upon the life experience one brought to the consideration, and was a very personal affair. Nonetheless, personally, there is a still, small voice in my head - or my heart, who knows - which says insistently - that is beautiful, that is worthy of intense scrutiny and appreciation. Stop and look - hard.

That is when, for me, the process of "getting something down" in art begins. Something magical has gone "clic" and then it is simply the nitty gritty of getting myself organised, out of my holiday optic... and getting down to work. Mañana!