Reflecting on ICAD, Week 1
I posted yesterday about the first week of my visit to my mom’s. Getting off to a strong start with the Index-Card-a-Day Challenge is always a concern for me when I am away from home for the first few weeks of the June-July challenge. As expected, things have been busy, but underwriting everything has been the consistency of the 2017 ICAD. No matter what else we are doing, no matter how much juggling there is to balance my work hours with my “hanging out” time, every morning there is the recognition that there is a piece of index card art to draw, a daily sketch to contemplate.
I started this year’s challenge with a few elements that I hoped to continue through at least the first wave of cards. I know that often pre-ICAD “plans” don’t work as expected, lose interest, or otherwise fade. I am pragmatic about making ICAD plans, and I am cautious about making plans that are too limiting, too confined, or even too hard to do. I am pragmatic, but I do like having some sense of structure for my own approach as I head into June 1 and the 61 days of ICAD.
I have talked about the kinds of “constructs” or “themes” I have used, and this is definitely not something that is required for doing ICAD. For me, the challenge is a personal challenge, a shifting of my daily drawing to index cards. This makes the challenge slightly different for me, and I acknowledge that my approach is a bit different.
I already have a daily drawing habit. ICAD is not a project through which I hope to discover a creative habit.
For me, doing ICAD is a continuation of my creative habit, of my insistence on the personal importance of daily art and the way doing daily art makes me feel about myself. Challenges like ICAD are wonderful because they offer a construct, a built-in level of accountability, and a creative and inspiring community. I love the flexibility of ICAD and the way it welcomes artists of all levels and with a wide range of interests and approaches. I love doing ICAD as part of a growing group of people who “do” ICAD every summer.
This year, my plans were four-fold. There are four elements that go together to define the way I am approaching my cards this summer. So far, three of the four elements has been working out nicely. One has proven to be a bit of a logistical challenge as well as a bit of an aesthetic challenge. [I think I will save spelling out the four elements until I talk about them on the podcast. For anyone seeing my cards, I think all four guiding premises are obvious as threads that hold together the series I am building with my 2017 ICAD drawings, but I would like to “talk” about them before I post more concretely on the blog.]
Observations One Week In
Timing. Not all art happens first thing in the morning or in a set chunk of time. Some people do their cards first thing in the morning or in a set block of time in their day. But making daily art doesn’t always fit so neatly into every schedule. When home, I often work late at night. Right now, while away, I find that some days I work on my card throughout the day. Some days I don’t manage to start until the evening and work on it in between deals of a card game. Most days the in-progress card sits out on a table somewhere, visible, and I pick it up when I can. You can make daily art “fit” if you want to.
Growth. My approach to ballpoint has already shifted somewhat from just a few weeks ago when I talked about the pens I had tried (Episode 239). My initial disappointment in the blue Bic I was able to find (Episode 241) has already flipped. It now feels like my trusted pen, the go-to pen, and I am somewhat wary of some of the rogue pens I have found and gathered. (I am not happy about this skepticism, and I am forcing myself on some days to try these random pens even though I know they may glop or fail.) Many of the pens I have found are also black ink, and the warmth of the blue, right now, is hitting a tone that I really love. (Previously I said that, really, the black is more me, so I have totally waffled in the act of doing these cards and am finding new love and appreciation for this series of blue ink drawings.)
Daily art. One of the important things to keep in mind (always) about doing daily drawing is that some days turn out better than others. When you are working start to finish on a drawing each day, some of the drawings will be stronger than others, and in the end, you may like some better than others. Maybe there was a problem with the ink or paper on one day, and maybe the eyes got off track on another day or the line of the nose isn’t strong enough. You may look at a set of ten drawings (cards) and find two that really stand out for you. You may see flaws in all of them or tiny things that bother you or that you wish you had done differently. You may find that problems in a drawing really jump out at you after the fact, the next day, a week later, or only when you see it in a photo. All of this is to be expected from daily work. It is important to realize that a drawing a day is more a process of practice than anything else. Each piece may not be as good as a piece you work on over days and weeks.
I have had a few mis-steps already in my first seven cards. You might expect that you would get stronger with each card, and while “big picture,” I think personal growth works that way, day to day, it doesn’t. My very first card of the challenge is my favorite so far. Some of the others have real problems. I see these issues, but each day is a new card and a new drawing. I try and keep moving forward.
Be gentle with yourself.
Here are a few of the cards I have created in the first week of ICAD.