Curate what you pay attention to. ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ ͏ ‌     ­ This newsletter is about drawing. It goes out every Friday. Want to draw? Then check out my free workbook!

#132 - Seek Not To Create Beauty, But To See Beauty In What You Create

Curate what you pay attention to.

Warm-Up Drawing Exercises

some of my sketchbook pages
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I’ve started living more healthily. I lost 18 kilos! But my weight has been at that number for weeks now. Depressing, or not?

Not really. The scale only tells one story.

Here’s another story: I managed to find a range of meals or change existing recipes for my purposes, meals that are healthy for me and that I find irresistible, crave, and look forward to eating. I lost 18 kilos, slept well, drank lots of water, stayed away from alcohol, added salt or sugar, processed food, and exercised much more, and as a consequence, my sugar level and my blood pressure have come down to more healthy levels.

That story is also one that I find much more inspiring and motivating. I am not struggling, persevering, but instead looking forward to doubling down on this to travel this path of healthy living.

The scales tell one story, but it is not a story I have to listen to.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have started doing the same with my art, and it is working.

Posting things on social media can be depressing: few likes, some unfollows. That can be demotivating if you pay attention to it. But it’s just a story, and you can choose not to listen to that story.

I might post on social media, but I no longer wait for the response.

I have a way of drawing in line directly with a fountain pen in a sketchbook, copying from reference, a process I thoroughly enjoy. Then I look at the sketchbook pages I filled, and they make me happy because I think they are beautiful and full of life, the artist’s first response to something. And I stop right there. And that’s the story I listen to; that is the story that motivates me and makes me want to draw the next day.

The stories you should listen to are the ones you have control over. You have control over how many hours you drew today, or how many sketchbook pages you filled. You can remind yourself of that and feel satisfied. You do not control how other people respond to your work, and it is a bad idea to depend on external validation, external motivation.

I don’t get to control how my weight scale responds to my body, but I do get to control my diet and daily habits, and I can feel good about having eaten healthily and having worked out. The weight scale grudgingly follows eventually.

It is the same with making art: focus on the things you do control: the time you spend creating art, the materials you use, the habits you create, and steer clear from needing external validation.

You can choose the stories about your art you want to listen to. Listen to the ones that you control, the ones that make you happy and keep you motivated.

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