Sometimes in life, and sometime art life, I’m just stumbling along. That’s when I’ve go no plan. Or at least no plan that looks like it’ll work out at the moment. But life still goes on without a plan and we all still have to live it.

As I write this it’s already July 5, 2022. I say, “Already” because last year my plan was well under way by now. Last year was my “Summer of Painting.” From the middle of May until the middle of October I painted six large canvases. I hadn’t done many large paintings like that in years so it was fun to do. Plus it took a lot of time.

This summer I have no big plan like that. I do have the plan I gave myself at the beginning of the year. That’s my “Make an illustrated version of ‘The Great Gatsby’” plan. I’ve been working on that for six months now and it’s going along fine but lately it hasn’t felt like a plan. Or maybe I just fear that it’s not going to work out in the end. The mind is a tricky thing.

I’m still getting stuff done though. I can remember back in my school days I had a friend who wanted to do 3D painting for one of his studio classes. He got nothing done on it. One day he told his teacher that he spent some time looking up how to do 3D painting but couldn’t find anything. So rather than waste his time with a painting that probably wouldn’t work out he did nothing. The teacher wasn’t happy with my friend’s nothing.

I’ve never been able to make doing nothing a successful option. When I need rest then doing nothing is the thing to do but if I want to get something done then I can’t let fear of failure get in the way. Fear of failure does try to get itself in the way. Even more than failure itself. Failure can make you give up or try harder but fear of failure mostly makes you give up. So even if I have no plan and I’m not feeling especially creative I still try to get stuff done.

The first thing I got done was a Gatsby drawing. I little while ago I found an old photo of a man in a suit that I used as reference for a Nick Carraway drawing. He’s the narrator of “The Great Gatsby.” I made a pencil drawing, and ink drawing, and then a color ink drawing. It came out well. I like it. You would think that would make me feel like my Gatsby plan was coming along well but somehow it didn’t.

I worked on a couple of my “Dreams of Things” comic book covers (to comics that don’t exist). I keep a bunch of those around in various stages of completion to work on. I inked cover 144 one day and then on another day I marker colored cover 142. That’s a fair amount of work on a long term project for me. I’ve completed 142 cover illustrations in that series now. But sometimes when it’s something I always get done it doesn’t feel like an accomplishment to get it done. The mind is a weird thing.

A project that I revived recently is my “The Painted Lady” project. That’s another title in my “Cover to Comic Books That Don’t Exist” series. I draw a woman’s body and then I draw a bunch of designs on her. They’re mostly in black and white but I have colored a few of them and so I decided to color this one too. It’s number 24 in the series and I’ve been learning new coloring techniques in Photoshop and Procreate lately so I tackled this one in Photoshop. I like the way it came out but somehow it didn’t feel like part of any plan. It felt like stumbling along.

My ultimate stumbling along pieces are my 6×9 inch three pen technique ink drawings. For the last couple of years I’ve always had some of these ready to work on. I look through my Inkbook for some thumbnail drawings, blow them up, print them out on 6×9 inch paper, tape the edges, and them draw them with three different thicknesses of black ink pens. These are generally quick to do. They can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours to draw. It all depends on my energy level. Sometimes I’m just slow.

I mentioned my Inkbooks before. They’re my sketchbooks that I make small ink drawing in. It’s where I come up with ideas. I fill a hundred page book a year which means I have to fill around eight pages a month. So far this year I’ve gotten a steady two pages a week done. In previous years I haven’t always been steady and have drawn in my Inkbook it fits in starts. As I’ve been writing this I realized I haven’t gotten my two pages done yet this week. Another regular thing I can trudge along with.

Besides writing this piece one of the things I have on my plate today is to computer color “The Painted Lady” number 25. I couldn’t think of what I wanted to do with my Fourth of July so I decided to draw another one of those covers. I hadn’t done one in a few years and now I’m working on my second in a week or two.

It was a few years ago that I can up with “The Painted Lady” concept and started drawing them. I can remember being very into it. I even made a “Swirl World” variation of the concept where I drew swirls on women. It all seemed like a plan. Like it was part of a project. That’s a hindsight thought. I probably did at least a handful of them just trudging along.

Somedays that’s all there is to life. Trudging along and trying to get things done. After all getting nothing done has never worked out for me. So I’ll keep on going.