I hate coming up empty. That’s when I’m trying to make some art and I got nothin’. I doesn’t help that I always got something. By that I mean I always have a box full of ideas and drawings to pull from but some days even that doesn’t matter. I think it is the general fatigue of life. Nothing special. Life is just hard and the day to day demands it puts on us can be tiring.

It’s not an “I don’t feel like working” thing. Even if I don’t feel like working I still do. I’ve been making drawings and paintings at a pretty regular clip since I graduated from art school eighteen years ago. If you want to make art you have to make a habit of a regular schedule. However often the schedule is doesn’t matter. What matters is that you don’t wait until you “fell like it”. If you wait until you feel like it then there will be a lot of waiting and not much art making. Soon the art is skipped altogether because who doesn’t get tired of waiting. And you never again will feel like it. Life takes its toll.

No, you’ve got to make things whether you feel like it or not. I’ve made plenty of good pieces when I didn’t feel like making anything and plenty of bad pieces when I was stoked and ready to burn. How you feel can be totally contradicted by the art you are making. So you have to make habit work for you and not against you. Habit is a powerful thing.

But I don’t think this bout of coming up empty is mental at all. It’s physical. I like drawing and painting. There is joy to found there but sometimes I work too much. I find it hard to do nothing so when I find myself in that situation I do something. Usually something creative. I forget rest is a necessary part of the process. Not in a stay up late and skip sleep way. That’s easy to notice. You’re dead tired and can’t move or think well. I’m a pretty good sleeper and get regular sleep. It’s more a “day of rest” kind of thing. I’m not an artist who makes a living off of fine art so I have to earn my crust and keep plus make some stuff that I want to. So down time is work time. Which is okay until a day like today hits.

I could never get started this morning. I couldn’t get out of my chair and all of the preliminary drawings on my table were meaningless to me. There are sometimes that I can do nothing but preliminary drawings. Pulling an idea together and making it all work in the end is hard and sometimes my concentration is just not there for it. Coming up with preliminary ideas I find easier so some weeks I just draw without ever contemplating anything finished. Those are tough times but at least something is getting done and I can generate a lot of stuff to be used in the future. Finishing a piece is the greatest high but there is something to be said for the start of the process when anything is possible.

Preliminary drawings are not appreciated by most people because, as art, they are unfinished but artists love them. That’s because, whether they are yours or someone else’s, the drawings reveal to the trained eye what came before and what is coming. They give a glimpse into the maker’s thought process. I couldn’t see my own thought process this morning. I couldn’t see the past I couldn’t see the future and the drawings meant nothing in the present. Ouch that hurts. Especially since I refuse to accept it. It took me until the afternoon to realize I should just rest up and wait for another day. That’s how strong the art habit is with me. I don’t recognize that I need a day of rest.

Tick tock tick tock. There’s a little glimpse into the inner workings. Dig it.

Now who wants to give me a massage?