Self-justification

I’m kind of excited today because my new camera is supposed to be delivered tomorrow. It’s a pretty fancy one and acquiring it has entailed a long struggle with my internal demons. First of all, as one of my voice loudly declaims on a regular basis. I don’t really need a fancy camera. I have a smallish camera that I was very excited to get a couple of years ago and which takes perfectly good pictures.

But the real reason I’m getting this new supercamera is to make videos. And, yes, I have a couple of smallish video cameras that are perfectly capable of capturing a moving image and getting it onto YouTube, but I have a dream. The dream is of making videos about drawing, capturing what is beautiful in the world and how I and my friends get that beauty down on paper.  But I want to go way beyond the instructional films I’ve seen around, not just step-by-step, “this is how to paint a fruit bowl” sort of things but videos that are as beautiful as the process they record. After decades of making commercials for other people, I want to apply all of that experience to filming what I love really well. We’ll see how that turns out.

Anyway, so I have most of me convinced that this is a legitimate endeavor and use of my savings, but as I say it took a fair amount of self-doubt to get there. I don’t know about you, but when I find a new passion, I tend to spend a disproportionate amount of time researching what other people think and do with the same interest before I allow myself to make a commitment. And I can also do a lot of shopping for accessories and supplies and doodads before I actually get to work doing what I had originally set out to do.

I mean, it’s so much easier to shop for art supplies than to use them.

I think that’s why, when I first started drawing fifteen years or so ago, I imposed a lot of restrictions on myself, like only drawing with a Uniball in a not very fancy book. Then gradually, as a reward for my commitment, I let myself get a few grey brush markers, and then a few others, then some colored pens, then a better quality sketchbook and then a Rapidograph. That point took a couple of years to reach. I think if I had indulged my urge to shop any further I would have gotten into way more than I could handle. Instead of forcing myself to learn each medium well, I would have started to wrestle with complexities I didn’t understand and would have just gotten so bogged down and frustrated that I would have lost my will to go on.

Eventually, after allowing for gradual expansion and experimentation, I settled on the materials that work best for me and the way I choose to express myself right now. I know them well and know how they work, how they misbehave, were the pitfalls lie, how to make them sing fairly in tune.

Now, a new fancy camera with lots of knobs and buttons may prove frustrating or distracting. I can easily imagine that I could get sidetracked by the gizmo itself, spend lots of time reading its manual. working my way through all its menus, consulting with others, etc. But because I have  a goal in mind and am going to learn how to make the thing in my head rather than become a professional photographer who can handle any technical situation, I will be able to create something that will give me confirmation rather than frustration.

I think that’s so key in developing a new skill. Not endlessly playing scales or drawing perfect lines and circles, but getting right in there and expressing something that matters to you. That’s why illustrated journaling had kept my interest for so long, not because I am just studying drawing but because I am using drawing as a tool to learn about the world around me,  capturing the beauty of every day, discovering how I feel about the treasures that surround me.

So, hopefully, I will learn how to get this camera to make the images I see in my head, in a clearer deeper way than I ever have before. I will capture the emotions I feel in drawing, what makes the process beautiful and magical, will create scenes that will help inspire others too.

Failing that, well, I’ll hang onto the receipt.