From my sketchbook:
"Open Space Farm Land." Watercolor Pencil.
Last week I finished the year-long revisions to my WIP, The Abyssal Plain. As in: finished, complete, all done. I can't believe this journey is finally over, at least the writing part of it. Soon I plan to begin my marketing, and after that I'm sure there will be more editorial changes to be made at some future date prior to publication. But for now, the book is written and ready to go. Which means I am now officially free to explore some new directions for awhile. So how apropos that I would recently visit a place called Open Space?
Open Space is 30,000 undeveloped acres of land situated throughout Albuquerque with the intention that these acres stay wild and free and forever open to the public. Set somewhat in the center of it all is the Open Space Visitor's Center where I met up with the Colored Pencil Society for an afternoon of plein air drawing and painting.
At first I was a bit nervous--plein air painting has never really been my thing, a topic I wrote about in my post Adventures in Travel Journaling. However, this time I remembered to bring a hat, sandwiches, water, and a sweater, and I was fine. More than fine--I sketched without getting a single bug bite, dirt smudge, or having to run to my car for refuge!
It was good to be outdoors after all these weeks and months cooped up with my Alphasmart and more red pens than you can count. And it was also good to think about "open space" in more metaphorical and personal terms. For instance, what parts of my creative life can I keep open for new ideas, new methods, new subjects and mediums? Where do I want to stay open in my artwork, and why? And when do I have to follow the rules without neglecting my own individuality?
These are good questions, and ones that I found myself thinking about while I was sketching the sun on the trees and watching the clouds float by. I also found myself thinking about what I want to do with the rest of this year. Some plans include:
- Writing a children's picture book set in Barcelona.
- Designing and painting illustrations for the book, even if it's just for my own fun. (Note for the curious: Sending a picture book manuscript with illustrations to a publisher is never recommended. Still, that doesn't mean I can't have some input at the end of the day, and the drawing does help me with the writing process.)
- Preparing and completing a piece of artwork for the upcoming Colored Pencil Society 2015 show here in Albuquerque--my first ever!
- Attending the October SCBWI conference, also here in Albuquerque. (I've signed up for all the picture book workshops.)
- Reading. Lots of reading.
- And of course, drafting my query and synopsis for The Abyssal Plain so I can begin submitting it to agents and editors early next year.
Tip of the Day: Collage can be an excellent way to cultivate and explore your own vision of creative open space. To give yourself plenty of room, try working with a format larger than your usual journal-sized page, for instance, a full-size piece of poster board or construction paper. Don't be in a rush to fill the paper, but do think of what will fill your spirit. Take your time to see what evolves, and what inspires you the most. Keep in mind that this isn't so much about being a "to-do" list as it is about finding what will keep you inspired and happy over the coming months. Enjoy!