As the day started out this morning I was tired. It was one of those days where I didn’t think I was going to get much done but ended up working all day on stuff. It started slowly as Sunday mornings tend to do. I went for a bike ride at about 8:30 in the morning. When I ride on a weekday I wait until after nine so that traffic dies down a bit but on the weekends I like to ride a little earlier. Though I often work on my art on the weekends I don’t always like to start at my usual weekday 8AM start time. I’ll putter around for a bit first or maybe read or straighten things up. On weekdays I like to get things started and well under way before my bike ride but on weekends I’m in such a hurry to get things going. Half an hour less less of a hurry at least.

Yesterday I worked on some drawings for the new comic “Message Tee” that I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s a gag comic where the gag consists of odd people with odd messages on their T-shirts. A simple concept but one I found hard to execute. It turns out that it’s really boring to draw people doing nothing but standing around in T-Shirts. Sure if someone were paying me money to do it that would be no problem but this is my own project. I have to find it interesting to do or no one will find it interesting to look at. I’ve been working on the comic for over a year. I’ve used three different drawing approaches, two different coloring approaches, a Photoshop filter recipe, and a couple of inkings approaches and now I’m finally close to having something finished.

I mention inking approaches because that was what I was doing today. When it comes to inking, which is finishing a drawing started in pencil with ink, I’m a brush guy. Some people are brush people and some people are pen people. Most inkers use some of both but one is primary. For me the brush is primary. I like it as a tool and I can do more with it than a pen. I think with a brush better than with a pen. So how come when I was faced this morning with pulling out my brush and inking the Message Tee drawings I made yesterday it filled me with disinterest? I don’t know why but as I was scanning in the drawings to print them out in blue line for inking I was not looking forward to inking them.

I consider the prepping of the drawing that I do before I ink them to be busy work. It’s easy, takes no thinking, and I’ve done it many times before. It’s one of those jobs that I have to start just so I can finish. It’s neither enjoyable nor painful. When I lack motivation to do anything else I can often get this busy work done. So that’s what I was doing after my bike ride. Busy work. Scanning. Printing. No thinking involved.

It was only after that busy work was over that I had to decide if I wanted to ink any of the drawings today. The thought of it bored me but I wanted to work on something for a little while. So I decided to do things a little differently. I grabbed a marker. I do a lot of drawing with my various black markers but it’s all preliminary drawing. I like to do my basic visual thinking in ink and a marker is a really good tool for that. I can draw out ideas without worrying about fixing things and prettying the drawing up as I do when I draw in pencil. The lack of an eraser is actually helpful. It frees the mind from caring about mistakes that, at this point, are inconsequential.

I have a lot of different types of black markers. Thick ones, thin ones, brush markers, and any other type I can find. I like to find new ones and try them out. Yet still marker is generally not a finished medium to me. Ink is. So when I want to make a finished ink drawing I put away the markers and grab my brush and a bottle of India ink. Except today I didn’t want to do that. Maybe it was because I knew exactly how things would turn out if I used my usual tools and that bored me. So I grabbed a favorite marker and began using that to ink with. It ended up being fun.

As I said before I just wanted to get started on something. The one secret I know for getting things done is to start something. It doesn’t matter what just get going. Don’t wait for inspiration, don’t wait until you feel like it, don’t wait until the perfect moment; just start something. Whatever it is. I’ve had some of my best creative days when I didn’t feel like getting started but I did anyway. Today was a day like that. Maybe not one of my best creative days ever but I got a lot of stuff done when I didn’t think I would be able to.

After I picked up a marker and started inking I got on a roll. I was doing things differently but they were going along smoothly and coming out nicely. After all a marker isn’t a new tool for me I was just using it in a slightly different way. I inked one Message Tee figure and then another and another. I ended up working all day and finishing what I though would take me a couple of days to plough through in four or five hours. I almost couldn’t stop. It was fun.

So what do I take from this day? First off just get started. Nothing ever gets finished if it doesn’t first get started. If I’ve got a motto it’s probably something along those lines. You gotta show up or nothing will get done. And secondly I’d say to change things up every now and again. It doesn’t have to be radical. You don’t have to cut all your hair off for a moment of dramatic change. Use things in a different way. Grab your second favorite tool and see what you can do differently with it. If you just keep things going there’s a chance something good will happen.