I’ve been rereading one of my favorite art books, Drawing the Landscape by Chip Sullivan. Its intended audience, I believe, is aspiring landscape designers and architects who want to learn to draw, which wouldn’t include me. But I love street views and maps, and this book is so quirky and full of good advice. It’s hard not to like an art book—one meant to be used as a textbook, no less—that tells you that a proper art studio needs to include a comfortable place for reading and napping. “Perhaps a couch with a bookshelf nearby.” He then goes on to describe napping and reading as essential parts of the creative process. I hadn’t looked at it in a long while, and was surprised to realize it even included a few examples of book art at the end. He cites his earliest artistic influence as Mad Magazine.
I’ve been going through one of those physical periods of frustration where I haven’t been able to do much. Rereading a favorite old book like this has been like comfort food.
From the section on the creative process:
“There is a certain degree of magic and mystery to creativity, but if you understand the process, it may come easier. First, you must be open and receptive to your imagination. Creativity is not one of those things that comes effortlessly; it is not instantaneous. It takes a lot of work, and artists strive for it constantly. Creativity is 90 percent hard work and intense preparation. Ideas implanted in your mind linger for a long time; they’re nurtured, then explode into a burst of creative energy. . . The creative flow is very much intertwined with perseverance.” (My artist friend Joan also blogged about this very thing a while back.)
A practical consideration is how does an artist persevere to create when lacking in physical stamina and fighting off other forms of physical limitation? But I keep trying to actively feed my head with ideas. Favorite books are good nourishment.
Pictured: The couch in my studio, which is actually a covered plastic love seat. The framed print above the road sign pillows is an example of Joan’s artwork. The deer crossing sign next to them is papier maché.