keep making marks

i threw away six pieces of art the other day.

art i’d worked on for days.

i’m working on a new technique for image transfers.

and i didn’t love how the pieces looked.

so, i threw them out.

that’s not the meaningful part.

i’ve thrown away a lot of art over the years.

the part that matters is what i did next.

which was to immediately – minutes after tossing the pieces – start eight new works.

there was no gap between throwing away what didn’t work + getting started on the next pieces that i’d hope would.

that hasn’t always been true for me.

or for most creative humans i know.

when something didn’t work, i’d pause.


i’d be frustrated or upset or disappointed.

and, a few steps beyond that, i’d feel like a failure.

like i couldn’t do it.

not just then, in the moment.

but ever.

and that feeling would build until it became an identity i carried in relation my mark making.

until i didn’t.

because my mark making means too much.

and i realized i couldn’t carry that idea around + still make the marks i want to make.

i had to trade the disappointing certainty of a lie for the tenuous possibility of devotion.

and i had to learn to do that again-and-again.

i didn’t love that the pieces i’d worked on for days didn’t look how i wanted them to look.

but i didn’t freeze.

i didn’t carry things that weren’t true or weren’t mine.

i didn’t shape myself around a me-that-wasnt.

i adjusted the technique as i prepped the new works.

then i got to work.

and they all came out beautifully.

that’s not the meaningful part.

the part that matters is that i kept moving.

i kept making marks.

so that i can keep making marks.

so that i can make the marks i want to make.

a lot of the good humans i work with ask me how they can make steady marks.

there’s no secret to that beyond knowing how to keep making marks until they’re steady.

and, while there’s no secret there, there is a lot of work, inside + out, to be done so that we can do that.

at the root, for me, is that devotion.

being devoted to my mark making in a way that, now, will burn up everything else as fuel to move forward.

a devotion that devours anything that tries to devour it.

and a devotion to inhabit a coherent identity that’s rooted in creative {and created} resilience.

we make steady marks by not letting ourselves be stopped by unsteady ones.

by being undaunted in our mark making.

in time, with devotion, the marks + the medicine of those marks + the mark maker take root.

and, in so doing, we rise.