I know I have hobby horses—those pet schemes and interests that you keep coming back to over and over. And nothing has preoccupied my adult life more than the efforts to get other people to draw. (I’m just bossy that way.)
What’s funny and fun for me to see, while going through the water-logged debris of my teaching and art records from the last 35 years that were destroyed in the latest flood, is how persistent and constant some of these pet projects are.
I had to smile, and indeed called Dick to the table I was sorting soggy papers at, when I found this tri-fold brochure I made in 1990 or so.
I got such a kick out of seeing my younger self through this brochure I thought you might enjoy seeing it too.
I was tired of spending my life sitting alone in public sketching. I was also feeling very new-age-y as you’ll see when you read the text. I had surrounded myself with people who had “kinder-gentler” energy.
Didn’t quite work, I remained the bossy house captain.
But 18 years after writing this and trying to get Art Pack going I found myself writing an extensive series, on my new blog (this blog), on how to sketch at the Minnesota State Fair. I broke “What to Bring,” “What to Wear,” “How to Prepare,” etc. from this brochure into lengthy posts with minute detail. (Without even remembering what I’d written in this brochure.) By 2009 I’d taken countless students on sketch outings in my nature journaling classes. I had a renewed sense of “if I just really spell it out for people it will make it simple, easy, fun, not scary.”
The 1990s Art Pack brochure is printed on one of those fiber-flecked papers I loved making my zines on in the 1980s and 1990s. I used the same line of paper in cardstock weight for my rubber-stamping and mail art. (Something else I did a lot of in the late 80s and the early 1990s.)
When I did Art Pack I didn’t have a website. I found people through word of mouth, and from my in-person art, bookbinding, and journaling classes. I also had a young client base for my design company and they helped spread the word.
Art Pack never really took off. I found it difficult to squeeze in outings. It was simpler for me to take off on my own. Many said they’d prefer a class.
Ideas from one project will infiltrate others. It’s a good thing.
I started pushing other projects in the 1990s and the precepts of “Art Pack” formed the basis for my approach in my “Drawing Practice” classes, both live and ultimately on line.
The muse does reward those “poised for action.” I was asked to be part of the Minnesota Journal Project 2000 and connected with a larger group of people who enjoyed sketching out.
This is definitely a case of “the more things change the more they stay the same.”
We hold ideas in our mind and they return in importance, perhaps in slightly varied iterations. The idea of Art Pack and my continuing desire to get people sketching pushed me to start the Journal Collective, the Minnesota State Fair Sketch Out, and Sketch Night at the Bell Museum.
Now I rarely go to my favorite sketching locations without seeing singletons or groups of sketchers.
I know I did my part. I know I gave Art Pack a chance.
With a smile I can toss this brochure in the bin. I’m still sketching out, but the “kinder/gentler,” new-age-y part hasn’t taken hold yet.
It’s a process.
Don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t worry about being perceived as bossy.
You have a unique vision and perspective. When an idea or a theme or a project keeps popping up in your life ask yourself, “Why am I so drawn to this?” “Why is this so persistent in my life?” “What does this represent for me?”
Think about ways that you can manifest that idea in your life. Think about how you can make the next iteration of the persistent idea better. Think about how you can maintain the original thread of what mattered to you. Pay attention to how the focus around that idea shifts with each iteration. You’re probably still trying to understand the full idea.
Understanding why something matters to you allows you to hone it to a useful reality. Understanding tells you how much of your time and energy to give to an idea, and how large or small a part that idea will have in your life.
For me it was essential I mentor people since I’d been so fortunate in my life with my mentors. Also I thrive on engaging with the blank page. I believed that I could model that for others, making it possible for them to engage as well.
Don’t be afraid to let those good ideas rise back up to the surface. Listen to yourself and take action.
And do get some sketching done today. It will bring you back into the present moment where you can actually use your energy to have an impact. (OK so some of that new-age-y stuff did stick.)
Looking for a place to sketch? I happen to know there are a lot of lovely sketch models waiting at the zoo!
Oh, and Before You Ask…
Why aren’t there any of my sketches in this brochure? I believed that if I used photos of the animals “commenting” it would be more fun/approachable, easier to produce as black and white photocopier brochures, and would encourage people of all levels and disciplines—writers and photographers as well as artists and illustrators—to join in. The brochure for a Bell Museum meeting did contain sketches, because by the time I made it I’d already begun to narrow my focus to getting artists to sketch out. That brochure was also more “serious” than this one. A salvageable file copy didn’t survive the flood. But I can confirm it contained the DNA of my Drawing Practice classes; it made me smile too.
And why Art Pack? Well it’s a group of artists hunting together of course. Hunting for the light, the small moment, the large event or meaning, the connection with other (the subject), the understanding of self…hunting.