Art is happening.
It’s not good art. It’s definitely not good art. But it’s art. I’ve been sketching and watching tutorials — mostly Valerie Flynn’s YouTube Channel Art ala Carte, but also Baylee Jae (not the least because I count at least two cats she’s had to relocate from her working surface during videos.) It’s been fun, and super informative/encouraging to see the build-up process along with the finished bits, rather than just the end result that wows you.
I know visual art is like writing in that it’s not fair to judge the material until it’s done. That is, the process of creating can be a jumbled, chaotic mess. In my mind, writing is more forgiving when it comes to that, because the idea of setting ink or lead to paper is a commitment that we don’t necessarily have when we’re typing on a computer. Nothing is wasted but time when I have to hit the delete button.
I have rudimentary skills. I can draw a shape and you can tell its supposed to be a cat. But I want to build on this, and I’ve wanted to build on this for forever, but until recently, the idea of having such a steep learning curve ahead of me was daunting, and unappealing.
I’ll admit it: I like being able to do something well, and while I can’t say that writing well was innate, sometimes it feels like it. Oh, I make loads of technical mistakes all the time, mistakes that see the light of day even because we can’t catch everything, we can only do our very best, and sometimes my very best isn’t all that good.
But I’ve been writing for decades. I’ve received great feedback and encouragement all along, and I tell good stories. To a degree, it’s easy. It’s skill that I’ve built up over years and years, and it’s nothing you can skip without actually writing, and having a regular practice is invaluable when it comes to that. The learning curve for drawing staring back at me was enough to decide, meh, I’m good.
Except — there are images I want to have out in the world, and I’m going to have to be the one to get them there. Who else is going to create the image of Poseidon and Vishnu hanging out together? Who else is going to want to show you what Thistlethorn might look like? There are stories that I desperately want to tell, and I want to SHOW YOU SOME OF THE SCENES. Beth insists that taking up art will in the end feed into my ablitiy * as a writer; that it will only enhance my skill set, and I think she’s right.
I feel empowered, having found these wonderfully encouraging artists sharing their process with us. I feel excited, picking up pencils and making marks on a page.I have a project already underway, and the art is going to be bad for a long, long time — and I’m good with that.
I take a step back and look at myself. Maybe I squint a little, trying to find familiar features, just to be sure. I’m excited, without any pressure-making feelings, without any “it’s stupid, it’s going to suck, why bother?” I’m ‘bothering’ because I’ve wanted to do this for ages. This is not going to be a regret, at the end of my life, that I didn’t try. I’m going to create art, just for the fun of creating it, and I’m going to share it, because that’s what I do (here, I’m vulnerable, EVERYONE LOOK!!). Someday I’ll maybe start to recognize this new Jo. For now, I’m okay just really liking her.
* I was gonna go in and fix this typo — but I kinda love its placement in that sentence. Like, yeah, I have an ability as a writer, but hey, it’s still messy and I still fuck it up, and look, sometimes I can’t spell! Yeah. It’s gonna stay.