Just for Fun: It Doesn’t Have To Mean Anything

August 18, 2011

Read the full post for details.

Above: Page spread from a 9 x 12 inch Fabriano Venezia journal. See below for details.

For me my visual journal is a lot about play. And play can be defined in a lot of ways. Play is overhearing and jotting down interesting comments as you sit in a waiting room. Play is sketching that waiting room. For some play might be the creation of a unified page spread in one sitting or the accumulation of elements over time until the page is bursting.

On this spread I sketched a pet store budgie with a Faber Castel Pitt Artist's Calligraphy pen. Then I left the page for days and days and did other things in the book. One day I simply started to doodle "Budgie" above the bird. Then I filled the letters in with colored marker. I was killing time thinking about something else. It sat for more days.

Then one late night I was playing with my loose drawings—drawings I make when I'm warming up or when I want to draw on a certain type of paper that isn't in my journal. I've written about these before. I keep a big pile of them and often use them for collage. On this night the little Pentel Pocket Brush Pen drawing of a small worried dog rose to the pile surface, staring at me. I started trying it out on various pages that weren't finished in this book. He was trimmed closely to the line so he could have easily been added on top of a painted page or collaged patterned paper. He seemed to fit here. Immediately the rest of the lettering popped into my head. The juxtaposition of oddly scaled indivuals prompted it.

I thought about painting this spread, but went on to something else, the book filled. As I finished the last page of this journal I gave it one last flip through. I decided I liked this spread as is.

I could spin you a lot of bullshit about how the budgie was representative of my attitude on the day I drew it (actually I was just drawing the bird so that wouldn't be accurate) and how it dictated the addition of the dog; or how something was going on in my life that made me feel like the dog and the bird represents something else, etc.

But the truth is, this is just something I was playing with. I had fun then, I have fun when I look at it now. It doesn't have to mean anything. In fact it might be great if it didn't mean anything.

I think it is important that my finished art have some sort of meaning or goal, but in my journals that isn't necessary for me. Play might actually lead me to meaning in another piece.

When I look at this spread I just remember the joy I had drawing the bird. The fun of deciding to write the type over the bird. The enthusiasm I felt when I sketched the dog. The joy I experienced when I realized I could put him on this page and save him from the slush pile, at the same time I was setting myself a mental game to play—finishing that "title."

Will something come out of this? Will it ever be a painting? Will it lead me in a new direction? That's part of the fun of this, I don't know. And unlike so many other questions in life, I don't need the answers to those questions, but I can search them out if I decide I want to.

It doesn't matter how you define play. Just discover what play is for you and start doing more of it.

    • Miss T
    • August 18, 2011

    Roz, I just LOVE that!

  1. Reply

    thanks for the reminder that everything doesn’t have to be a finished piece of High Art with deep meaning…it can be just for fun! and letting a drawing ‘percolate’ for a while can open the door to fun opportunities…

    • Cate
    • August 18, 2011

    Roz, you said you could spin us a lot of bullshit but you didn’t, and here’s the thing: you don’t. You never do. You just go in search of more questions and you live them like Rilke said and you have a ball doing that and inspiring others to do that. That’s what I love about this blog. Unlike 99.9% of the other art blogs out there, this one is a bullshit-free zone. 😀

  2. Reply

    Cate, I can’t tell you how touched I am by your comment. I’ve tried to keep this blog a bullshit-free zone and it means a lot to me that you recognize it as such.

    That said, just know that I can sling a lot of bullshit if the circumstances require it.

    But I also have a ball doing what I do every day, even when things don’t go as hoped, planned or even suspected. Everyday is an adventure. And if I get to sketch (which is pretty much all of my days) then it has been a really great day, not only in the sense of productivity, but also because I’ve learned a little bit more about myself in the process. And I think that’s a good goal. And play helps me achieve that.

    Thanks for reading.

    • Cate
    • August 19, 2011

    Ahh, bless, Roz. 😀

  3. Reply

    A lot of the paintings I start end up unfinished. I think it’s that way because during the process I realize a new direction I want to go.

  4. Reply

    Clint are you OK with the paintings not coming out finished? With moving on? Is this just in your journal or in your finished artwork?

    For me the journal lets me move on and not worry about finishing things. But for my stand alone art I usually finish the pieces. I tend to think things through with thumbnail sketches and studies and then do the painting, and even if a new direction crops up I finish the thing—either in the new direction or by finishing with my original intent and then starting a new one.

    Because of the last approach I tend to work in a lot of series!

    I hope you are enjoying the new directions in which you’re pulled.

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