Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Am I Making Enough Art?

I was in a bit of a panic a month or so ago that I have not made enough art, I am way behind schedule, and that I am never going to complete my work on The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia. This all got me thinking about how I am approaching my life currently and how I am using my time and energy. As I take on less client work and focus more on my own work and The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia, am I making enough art and working hard enough? Without the hard and fast deadline from an external client with a contract and money on the line, am I giving it my all, am I using my time as effectively as I can? While this might seem like a straight forward question I am not sure it actually is. There are many layers, lots of nuanced feelings, and lots of emotions involved with how I am currently approaching making art and how I use my time.

I am always open to the fact that I have a day job. The job, for better or for worse, has to be my first focus when it comes to work time and energy. It provides me everything necessary to have a full and stable life, as well as grant me the time and space to pursue my art career. I recently received a promotion, and while I have a lot more responsibilities and there is more of a time commitment the pay increase matches what I had been bringing in as a freelance artist. This is one the factors that has allowed me to step back from freelance work and focus on my own work that currently produces no income, but in the long run should be a much more rewarding endeavor.

Current work in progress - The Keeper of the Clocks
The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia - © 2018 Christopher Burdett

I have also been upfront, mostly in my year in review posts, that in recent years I have found myself increasingly more and more burned out from working all the time and having no time to do anything else in my life. For a number of years I was working 40 hours a week at the day job and then another 40-60 hours a week doing freelance work. I was regularly working 16 hours a day, seven days a week just to take care of all my responsibilities of the two jobs. This is only sustainable for so long and in recent years I was starting to break under this schedule. A change was needed and a change was made.

One of the main changes in my day happened close to two years ago, I began walking every day. What started as an hour walk in the evenings has now become a 7-13 mile walk before breakfast every day of the week, rain or shine. I spend at least 2 hours of my day walking and it has done wonders for my mood and health. My doctor is thrilled and says I could not do more to insure a healthy life, which is great. More importantly it gives me some alone time to think and reflect on things. Most of the time this all happens before the sun comes up so I am often completely alone on my route. While I am playing Pokemon Go for most of the walk, I am also thinking, planning, and typing notes on my phone regarding The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia. A lot of the work I have been doing this past year and a half on the Bazaar can be tied in some way to my walks. While the walks are great for me and have become a routine I hope to never break this means that 2 hours at the beginning of my day are now reserve to this activity. Those 2 hours use to be spent making art at the end of the day.

The Keeper of the Clocks completed line work
The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia - © 2018 Christopher Burdett

I am also spending a lot more time with my wife and whenever possible with friends. This time could not be spent better. I often find myself doing nothing but enjoying the company of others and reflecting on a program or a beverage or going on an adventure. 10 years ago I would not be able to sit ideally, I would have to have pencil and paper in hand and I would have to be working on something while trying to engage in a social activity. Now, I need to be at my drawing table if I am working and all work is done at the drawing table. Habits change and new habits are made. It has taken  a lot of work to break that unnerving feeling that I need to be working ALL THE TIME. I felt this for years and it was not a healthy way to live. I missed many opportunities to connect with people and I did not get as much out of the interaction that I had because I was either working or distracted by thinking about working. 

It use to be that a day would not go by that I did not draw or paint. Every day I worked. Every day I HAD to work. Now I have days that I don't touch a pencil, but it is my choice because I am focusing on living my life and making sure when I come to the drawing table I am refreshed and ready to work. I believe that I needed to draw every day earlier in my life, you have to put in the time and effort to get better, but at some point that work is done and you can more directly focus your efforts and time.

After my panic a month ago and my worries that I was never going to get anything done I stepped back and actually looked at how much work I have completed in 2017. I created the vast majority of the monster illustrations for The Grand Bazaar of Ethra VanDalia, a bit of writing for it, and freelance assignments. I actually made a lot of work, not the most I have made in a year's time, but FAR more than I was thinking I did. I also returned to Europe, traveled to the Bahamas for the first time, spent time again in St. Augustine, attended three conventions, and spent time with friends and family. Old habits die hard, and I just need to remain focused on spending quality time working and when I am not working to savor whatever it is I am doing. It is not a race, it is not a competition, it is my art and it will take as long as it takes to complete and I have a life to live.

That's all for another exciting Wednesday on the blog, see you back here on Friday! Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability head over to my website:

No comments:

Post a Comment