I got some stuff done this week. I made some art. Intellectually I know that and I know it’s a good thing to get stuff done but emotionally I’m not feeling it. I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished anything. That’s because I haven’t gotten the one thing done that I feel I should. What is that one thing? I don’t know. That’s the problem.

On Monday I decided to do some inking. I picked out one of my “Dreams of Things” covers that I have penciled and was ready to ink and I worked on it until I got it done. It was issue number 76. I’ve inked that many of them. 76 cover is a lot. I’ve done them all myself. It’s an accomplishment but I didn’t feel it after I finished it. I still wanted to work on some unnamed thing that I can’t even picture.

Sometimes I get it in my head that I want to do something big and important. That’s understandable. A lot of people want to do something big and important. But the eternal question is what is big and important? Most of us have no answer to that. Neither do I. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to have the answer.

On Tuesday I still had no idea what the big thing was so I continued on with my usual fare. I noticed that I had never inked “Dreams of Things” #74 so I put that one on my drawing board. I worked on that one until it was done. I should have had a sense of accomplishment but there was none. It’s not like I didn’t like the work I was doing. It’s that I know it will lead nowhere. At least nowhere in terms of the external world. Fame and fortune do not await me for finishing the 74th “Drifting and Dreaming” piece of art after the world didn’t care about the first 73.

I think that’s what the “Big and important” thing is about. It’s about getting the world to notice and like my art. There is no path to follow to make that happen so I stumble along making what I can and hoping to find the right road to go down. If you want to listen people have endless advice on which road to take but it’s rarely a road that’s well lit, they’ve never travelled it, and don’t even have proof of it’s existence. Making art is a tough gig.

On Wednesday I couldn’t take inking anymore and decided to use ink and watercolor to make some of my sci-fi fantasy landscapes. I pulled out three 5×7 inch sheets of paper. Except it wasn’t actually paper. It was left over matte board that I cut down to size. That meant it was extra thick and could take water without warping.

First I put down some pencil lines where I wanted the buildings to go, then I drew the buildings in ink, next I used some gouache/watercolor to put in some color, and then for the final step I went in with some more black ink. I worked on three of these small paintings at the same time so that I could switch between them when the one I just worked on needed drying time.

Y’know what gave me a sense of accomplishment the most this week? Playing a trivia game. That’s what video games have evolved to be quite good at. Giving a player a sense that they’ve done something. I downloaded the “Friends” 25th anniversary app onto my iPad. It’s fairly useless except it has a trivia game in it.

Each of the ten seasons of the TV show are divided in half and ten multiple choice questions are asked about each half a season. Over the week I played the game until I answered all the questions correctly. I got about 80% of them right on the first try but it took a few tries to get the ones I didn’t know. Eventually I cleared the whole game and felt like I accomplished something. Weird.

As I write this it’s Thursday and what I got done today was another “Dreams of Things” cover. This time it was cover number 75 and I colored it with markers. I had inked it weeks ago and so it was ready for the next stage. It took a while as the color was complex on this one but I liked the way it came out. It’s amazing how I can be happy with the way a piece of art turns out but I still have no feeling of accomplishment after it’s done.

Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s good when I like the way a piece turns out. I’ve known some artists who were never happy with their work and it made them miserable. I’ve heard some people say that an artist being unhappy with their own work makes their work better but I don’t think this is true. I expect young artists to be unhappy with their work but after making art for a long time you’d better learn to please yourself or you won’t be making much art.

One of my habits to help myself feel like I’ve accomplished something is to put a whole bunch of my work in front of me and look at it. I usually have my latest stuff up on my easel and I can see a bunch of pieces all at once but sometimes I have to go beyond that.
I think I’m going to pull out all of my “Dreams of Things” covers and look at them. I have 75 of them so I can’t even look at them all at once since I don’t have that much space (they’re 11×17 inches each) but I’ll manage something.

Meanwhile I’m also going to still be contemplating my something big and important. It’s mostly thinking that comes to nothing but I still want to think it. Maybe someday I’ll come up with an idea for something that will really catch on but until then I hope I can at least think of some art to make.