“The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don't, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind for your own self and not to show off how much you know or to spit it back at your teacher on a test paper.”― Polly Horvath, My One Hundred Adventures

It was summer when I read that quote. I know it's not summer anymore, but it's the first fall since I was four that I haven't had to go to school and thus the first fall in a long long while that I haven't had required reading. So I've been reading whatever I want and for however long it holds my interest.

I don't know if I believe in fate, but I do try to have a schedule that is not too regimented to allow for things to happen spontaneously.  I try to make decisions along the way. For example, I never plan what route I'm going to take before I go for a run.  Of course, even if I let an open cross-walk dictate my direction, I still have to choose whether to go left, right, or straight ahead once I cross the street.

A little less than a month ago I was in Wilmington Delaware. Not many businesses are open on the weekend there and if they are, the hours are odd. I was in a little bookstore and after perusing for a good twenty minutes, I came across a book called Steal Like an Artist. I thought it was going to be dumb because I had just put back a book devoted to 101 Things That Annoy You, full of the most ridiculous crap and far more annoying in it's existence than anything described in it's pages. But from the few pages I read Steal Like an Artist seemed to actually have some solid advice. I thought about trying to read it all (I had no time constraints) but then I realized I was being absurd. I was holding a book that seemed to be offering me the advice I needed and it was only ten dollars. So I bought it. I'll admit I hid it from the girl I was with (a fellow artist) because it seemed too cheesy that I bought an artist's self-help book.

I read the first half of it... but then I cleaned my room and it got put on a shelf. It wasn't until about a week ago when I was complaining about my life in general, that I was told to make a painting every day. It's an idea I've had in the past, but never followed through. Something about being told to do something so straightforward and simple as that made me immediately accept the challenge. Of course I wasn't going to make a masterpiece a day, but work in my sketchbook, work on a painting, just do some artwork every day. And that's what I've been doing.

I went back to Steal Like an Artist last night and finished it. The second half of the book is all about what I just started doing, following other artists online, working every day, starting a blog... Kleon writes, "Most websites and blogs are set up to show posts in reverse-chronological order-the latest post is the first post that the visitors see, so you're only as good as your last post. This keeps you on your toes, keeps you thinking about what you can post next." This is pretty much exactly why I came back to this blog. I could already picture myself abandoning the canvas I was in the middle of stretching and I thought, "I'm much more likely to keep working on this if I tell a bunch of people I'm working on it." Of course, I have no followers and I have no idea who reads this and they aren't very likely to ask me how my progress is going... but I still find it helpful.

There's also a section about doing analog work as opposed to doing everything on the computer. I might come back to that and think about Dahlia Elsayed's comment from my earlier post.

*stolen from someone's tumblr after being stolen from Austin Kleon's book. I've seen a lot of stupid diagrams along the same lines, but this one -at least for me- was so true I actually laughed as I read it.  It's during that dark night of the soul that I try to remember things get worse before they get better.