I’m not much of a list person but some people are. They like to write things down and then check them off one by one as they do the things listed. I can understand the appeal. Finishing everyday tasks rarely come with rewards so putting that check mark next to something on a list can give a person a sense of accomplishment. That can be a reward in itself and it’s the little things in life that get us through.

The only time I make a list is when I’m trying to figure out what to do next. Creatively that is. Most of the time I know what I’m going to do next. I finish a painting so I want to then do some drawing. After that I turn the drawing into a print. Maybe then I work on a photograph. I have many artistic things that I like to do. When I’m tired or disillusioned with one thing I can move onto another. But it isn’t always that easy.

Sometimes, like this week, I have no clue, no direction, no focus, and no idea what to do next. Some of the time when I’m like that I just draw. Basic idea drawing in my drawing book. I might not use them now but maybe I will in the future. I’ll dig through my old drawing books and work up finished drawings from some old ideas. This week I dug through my drawing book from 2003, pulled out a few ideas, and made them into finished drawings. Finished drawings aren’t necessarily finished works of art though. That’s a few more steps.

It’s only when I’ve done idea drawings, finished drawings, and maybe even some color sketches yet still have no idea just exactly what it is that I want to do that I make a list. I make the list in an attempt to gain some focus. It’s a list of things I’ve been working on, am interested in working on, or have to do. I don’t usually check things off of the list as it’s not there to help me with my sense of accomplishment.

As a matter of fact I often forget about the list entirely after I get back on track and start doing a few things on it. I write the lists in little notebooks I have lying about the place and then ignore the list as my attention moves to whatever I’m working on. Quite often when I rediscover the list a week later I notice I only finished half of it and it doesn’t even matter that I didn’t finish things on it. All that matters is that it got me started on something.

This weeks list went something like this:

Self Portrait

Photos for BDay

Print Store

Marker Drawings

This is a list of some of the things on my mind. The self portrait is because I just watched a BBC show called Ego: The Strange World of Self Portraits. It was all about the art historical tradition of self portraits. It made a case for artists’ self portraits being important works in the history of art. I liked it. I’ve done a couple of self portraits in my day but haven’t done any in a while. This show made me want to do one. I think this one is a long shot on the list though.

Photos for BDay is for my Mom. For her birthday my Mom wants some photos. She gave me all the family photos from over the years and sometimes I uses them as a basis for making my own photos. She gets photos she took decades ago reinterpreted by me. I’m making these in the style of my Lo-Fi Found Art that I’ve been using lately. I’ve made them all different ways for her over the years depending on what style I’m using in my current photo work. Sometimes I go back and do things in my “Classic” style though.

Print Store is something I’ve been threatening to do for a while but still never have. That is setting up an Etsy (or some such) print store. I keep wanting to do this but I think it might be another long shot. Or this might finally be it’s time. I’m never sure. It would mean coming up with a plan for which pieces of mine I should make prints out of. I’m horrible at this part. I have no idea what other people will like. I know what I like well enough but it has been my experience that when what I like matches with what other people like it’s strictly coincidence.

I’m not even sure what the plan would be. I’d have to pick five or six pieces, figure out a size, price, and edition, make prints of them, set up an Etsy store, post them, and then what? No one will know or care that the store is there so I’d have to somehow market it. So now I’m doing marketing? That wasn’t on the list. You can see now why I’ve never gotten around to doing this one.

Marker Drawings is the final thing on the list. I haven’t actually uncapped a marker yet but this is the one I chose to start today. I picked a couple of idea sized drawings and worked them into some finished drawings. They’re going to be small marker drawings, about five by seven inches, because I wanted something I can get a handle on. I haven’t made a marker drawing in months and one of the reasons for that is that I made them more and more complex.

Last winter I started working in marker as a finished medium because I thought I could use them with a little more speed than paint. Then my technique got so complex and time consuming that it took all day to finish the last marker drawing I made. I liked the way it turned out but I haven’t had the desire to do another since. So I’m simplifying a little. It’s not always easy to simplify but I find it helps me focus. I’m pretty sure I’ll get some done.

I don’t usually have more than five or six things on any of these lists of mine. I lose interest in them after they get about that long. That might also be because one of the things on the list should spark an idea or get me motivated before it gets too long. A long list of things to do is too daunting. It becomes an impossibility. It’s one thing to expect not to get two or three things done on a list and another thing to not get ten things done on a list. Then it becomes a list of things I’m never going to do. What’s the point of that? There is no focus here.

Well, enough rambling on about lists. I better focus and then go and do something on that list.