I’ve been in a bit of an art malaise lately. It’s January 8th as I write this and I think it’s something that hits me every January. With the beginning of a new year I take a look at what I’ve gotten done and what I want to get done. That’s a tough thing to do. Maybe just the first part is. Figuring out what I want to get done in the coming year is not an easy task.

It was last January that I decided to work on my own illustrated edition of “The Great Gatsby.” I gave myself a year to do it but I’m not done just yet. I’ve made plenty of illustrations and designed most of the book but I still haven’t figured out what I want to draw for the cover. I also still want to do two more illustrations but I’m not yet sure what they are going to be. But I’m not sweating it. There is no real deadline for me to finish plus I know that I eventually will. But still it gives me pause that a whole year has passed as I worked on this.

I think it’s the knowing that I’ll finish a long term project that can cause some of the art malaise. Often when I have a project to work on that I’m the most happy and focused. I’ve picked out something worth doing and I’m doing it. When the project I finished there is a brief moment of satisfaction but no other reward. It’s not like anyone is paying me money for my art or is even bothering to look at it in general. I keep going because I like to keep going.

So here we are in January and I’m asking myself, “What’s next?” and I have no answer for myself just yet. I’m going to have to be patient and wait.

Not having any idea of what to do doesn’t stop me from doing stuff though. I’ve been getting one “Drifting and Dreaming” cover done a week for the last few months and I’ve kept that up. It’s not always easy to do but I may as well. For the last two weeks I’ve been drawing some new ones since I was almost out of finished drawings to ink and color but now I’ve got a few sitting around.

Having my usual projects sitting around waiting to be worked on is one of my keys to getting things done. The “Dreams of Things” covers are especially good for that as they and be in various stages of completions and I can work on any of the stages that I feel like.

I also started drawing in this year’s Inkbook. It is number 24. That means that this in my 24th year of filling up these Inkbooks with small ink drawings that I get a lot of my visual ideas from. I even changed things up a little bit this year. For the last five years or so I’ve been drawing in the Inkbook by making nine similar sized boxes on a page. I decided I was bored with that and started making boxes of various shapes and sizes at about ten or twelve a page. I felt I had gotten too rigid with my Inkbook drawing and so I want to loosen the format up a little. So far it’s been fun.

Another thing I started working on is my “Drifting and Dreaming” comic strip. I started making the cartoon art cards that make up the strip. Each one is a face looking out at us and a word balloon above the characters head saying something weird and witty. First I write then, then letter them, pencil the character, ink the character, and finally color in the card with markers. It’s easy to do one of them but I need a hundred and four of them a year for my strip.

I’ve already gotten forty of them done for next year (2024) but that still leaves a lot to go. I often split up the work on these over many days so I forget how long they really take. This past Sunday I got ten of them done (I usually do them in batches of ten) but it took me all day. I started at eight in the morning and finished around four in the afternoon. So I have seven days more work on theses cards for the year.

Today I started working on a Big Ink Drawing. Those are the 22×30 inch drawings that I like to make. I’ve done over fifty of them in the past but in 2022 I think I only got about four of them done. I was busy with my Gatsby stuff.

I like to make these Big Ink Drawings. I find them fun. Each one takes about three days to draw so it isn’t a ton of time but it’s not like I can knock one out in an afternoon. I’ve been thinking about starting one for a few months now but something else always takes precedence. It was always easier to start something that wasn’t a three day project even if that project eventually took longer.

Every other morning I thought about starting a Big Ink Drawing I couldn’t figure out what drawing I wanted to make. This morning I said to myself that I was just going to pick a drawing and start. I have nearly two hundred of my 6×9 inch “Three Marker Technique” drawings sitting around that I could pick from and blow up to Big Ink size.

I spent half an hour first thing in the morning looking through the drawings. I eventually picked one and started. I found the scan of it, printed out the drawing at 22×30 inches (on eight pieces of 8.5×11 inch paper taped together after printing), transferred it to the big paper with graphite paper, and started drawing it with ink. It was slow going and took all day but I got it started.

It’s good to get things started. I may not have many things figured out about the future but getting things going in the now can help keep away that artistic malaise. Keep drawing.