I began the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes in October, knowing the deadline for the National Arts Program Exhibit was in early December. I chose the title and started putting ideas down in a sketchbook. I made a lot of sketches, did a lot of thinking and eventually settled on the idea of a triptych. I’ve been experimenting with the old school nibs and India ink which I loved as a kid. I find they are difficult to use, though, and tend to bleed big blobs of ink.
Still, little that’s worth doing is easy, and I continue to practice with them. They offer great possibility.
In October and November (especially over Thanksgiving break), I had a lot of ideas, and the piece kept shifting focus. But when the actual day started to approach, my thinking solidified and I was “forced” to make decisions about the piece and execute them. I realize that without the deadline, I would have continued to develop ideas…forever.
This is the joy of process – getting lost in exploration and discovery and practice. I am a master of JOP. To a fault, perhaps.
When I noticed the deadline approaching (it tried to sneak up on me, but thankfully I glanced up and saw it coming), I heard an audible “click” in my head. The pressure increased, decisions were made and the piece was assembled. Mr. JOP stepped aside and Mr. Assembly-line-worker took the plans got down to business. This guy is the person who likes to make lists and accomplish things – a very good partner for Mr. JOP.
I used to do this with music – I’d write songs and record little ideas and fill notebooks and tapes – I have gigs and gigs of this stuff – some of it is quite good, too. What was missing was a partner to work with, or a show to play or an album to finish.
Deadlines are good. Pressure is good. They add a dimension of purpose in what we do. They bring JOP together with Mr. Assembly-line-worker, the two halves of a whole.
It’s very tempting to remain Mr. JOP. I think being him is more comfortable, and certainly more fun. He’s the mad scientist, loose on new frontier of possibility and wonder. Do many other artists feel this way? I know a lot of my fellow developers do. And, I should add that these rough sketches in this post lead to other things – they all came from Mr. JOP’s efforts.
There are levels of deadline pressure, too. A professional illustrator may be given guidelines, such as “Dead Fish Smoking a Pipe” or “Ruttabaggit” needed by next Tuesday. Open ended projects, on the other hand, may offer a little too much creative freedom, thus becoming a JOP trap. This can be especially daunting to non-professional creatives who are developing their own inspiration engines. Luckily, we live on a web with things like Illustration Friday, Spark and a bazillion other outlets to help us develop a JOP-creative output balance.
Alas, there’s work to do. Back to the drawing board.