Just like a no-hitter in baseball, you don’t want to mention it while it’s going on. I don’t even really want to acknowledge it to myself. If it is going on, I try and keep it together: like a casual glance at the Galaxian high score that you are close to beating, but not constantly checking. I can write about it now, because it’s not happening anymore.
When I hit a purple patch, and I’m doing loads of drawing, (specifically drawing I’m happy with), and having new ideas, there’s nothing quite like that feeling. Everything comes together nicely and the brain is skipping along the street in technicolor, while everyone else is drab bowler-hatted men walking across a black and white London Bridge.
Sometimes these spurts happen just for a few days, sometimes they can be for a sustained period. I don’t really know if there’s any way to prolong them. It would obviously be great to control them, but I somehow feel that’s not gonna be part of the deal I’ve made with my brain.
I just came out of a brief one, though. A nice two-week patch of drawing, decent ideas, writing, and—somewhat importantly—feeling good about my work. It began here, actually. When I looked at stuff that I’d drawn while I was in London, wrote up some notes, filled the blog up a little bit. The London trip was average. It was nice, as always, to see friends and family. And, on the surface, it was nice to have an exhibition, but that exhibition itself wasn’t really a success. It didn’t get much publicity, I hardly sold anything (but, a massive heartfelt thank you to those who did buy something), and tapping numbers into a calculator of the cost of it all, there’s a minus sign in front of the numbers at the bottom of the in and out columns for the trip. And when that happens, I don’t feel like an artist. I feel like someone wasting money trying to be an artist. Especially when, in London, I went to see other shows by real artists who seem to have that side of their lives figured out.
That feeling, plus the inevitable post-London blues that I always seem to get when I return to Mexico, and it’s amazing that this purple period happened at all. I had two weeks of good stuff. The drawings I’ve done have made me relatively happy. I’m not gonna say they are great, but they’ve at least shown me a possible way forward. I was surfing and I was upright. But I hit a rock at the weekend. And it all stopped. Which is why I can write about this now. Couldn’t write about it while it was happening. When I’m in a good patch, I like to go to my Ideas and Sketches folder, a dumping ground for things to do later, and have a new look at something. The air dancer story came out of that. It was an old idea, from early in 2013. The Bill and Ted infographic, too. That’s been hanging around for three or four years, just some notes and dates in an Excel document.
Hitting the rock, though, isn’t often as obvious as it should seem. It happened at the weekend, but I didn’t realise it until yesterday. I started working on this thing that’s gonna be a short 30-second animation. I got about halfway through the drawing stage, and then yesterday morning, things just didn’t happen. I looked at what I’d done and realised I don’t have it in me to do it right now. I tried to continue, but it wouldn’t budge. So back in the Ideas and Sketches folder it goes, waiting for a future purple patch.
But “waiting” can’t happen. There will be some days of feeling a bit glum, but I will keep on drawing. Gotta work my way out of this opposite-of-a-purple-patch, which, I guess, looking at complementary colours, makes it a yellow patch.