When life gives you lemons…

It can be disheartening when things don’t work out as planned. Things haven’t been going exactly as I expected. I had a plan. I always make plans. But sometimes plans don’t pan out.

Step one: find a book about whales of New Zealand

Step two: buy ink for my fountain pen

Step three: make the work

I thought that it would be easy to find a book about whales at a second-hand book shop–just like at home. Well, I was wrong. “Hmmm…I don’t think we have any native whales” the lady at a book store told me. Huh. Shelf upon shelf of books about birds, spiders, penguins…. no whales. Nothing. 

Ink. It is probably one of the simplest art supplies. It is basic. I finally found an art store and bought a shiny, new bottle of fountain pen ink. The long anticipated moment arrived, I carefully opened the bottle, filled the bladder of my pen and began to draw in my new sketchbook. Nothing. Scratch. Scratch. It was drying to the nib.  

Just make the work. It sounds simple. But there are so many things that can get in the way: not enough time, no work space, no source material, distractions. My biggest hang up has been the lack of a working surface (like a desk or a table). Solution? Work smaller, work in segments, work with what you’ve got.

If you don’t succeed, try and try and try and try again. To be honest it can be frustrating when things don’t work out like I want them to. I have been learning a lot about the importance of being flexible, perseverance and the value of finding alternative solutions. I ended up finding a lovely book about New Zealand whales (yes, there are whales that live off New Zealand) at a visitor information center in a tiny, coastal town a few days ago. I returned the bottle of ink and bought a lovely bottle of Parker ink at a book store. I also wanted to find a dip pen for the ink, but couldn’t find one anywhere. After a few failed attempts looking for a pen I accepted my defeat. Thanks to Jill Ehlert, a dear friend of mine, I remembered her showing me how to create a dip pen out of a stick, some tape and a pop can. DIY pen…success!

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I feel like this is true with art as well. It is one of the results of traveling and making work. Suddenly you don’t have the materials you are used to, your supplies are very limited and you are working in an unfamiliar environment. While it can be frustrating at the time, it is an important reminder that creativity is the key to art. And in the making of art you also need to be creative. Creative in your approach. Ultimately the end result doesn’t even matter. It is the journey. It is about pushing your comfort level, experimenting and making new discoveries.





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