It’s funny, how something that’s supposed to be enjoyable and relaxing can so easily become an obsession. There’s something to be said for getting sucked into your work, but there’s a fine line between having a hobby and having a neurosis.
I’ve kind of been toeing this line lately.
Since drawing random shapes and patterns on paper using little more than a steady hand and a fine-tipped black pen (who am I kidding? It’s a Sharpie Ultra Fine Point, dammit, and it is my Precioussssssss) is all that’s technically required for the “simplest” of these, you would not think there’d be much opportunity for it to get weird.
I blame Pinterest. It was almost too easy… someone posted a pic that had a complex series of inked-in patterns worked into its design. It was like a paper quilt or scrapbook page, made with STUFF that looked simple enough when taken separately, and looked magical when all pulled together.
I was hooked. Shit.
It started out innocently enough. I found tutorials for online patterns, which are intended to be very Zen and doodle-y and should not involve migraines or swearing or any kind of practice runs and tearing out of one’s hair. So not the way that works. And then, it turns out, there are Facebook groups dedicated to both art journals and Zentangles and tangles (the non-branded, generic version of doodles and pattern making). Some of them are so very intensely specific, and sometimes group members hiss in unison when noobies (or the ignorant) cross lines. It happens fairly regularly. And, of course, me being me, I step on toes on a regular basis and then feel stupid about it afterwards…but I digress.
It was supposed to be an innocent diversion, something with which to occupy my time after my freelance content writing took a backseat to life. It wasn’t supposed to cost money, only effort. Yeah, right. Suuuure. I now own two very pretty decorative storage boxes chock full of paint, fine-tipped pens, ModPodge, gesso (both matte and shiny-sheeny), paintbrushes, Washi tape, bits and bobs, more scrapbook paper I do not need, more paint, makeup sponges, bubble wrap and texturizing tools, and four different weights of art paper.
And it’s so, SO easy to get sucked in and get stressed out. This is the opposite of the point of art, or even a hobby.
I compare what I make to those projects posted in art groups. I stress that the Pins I’m collecting are so much more pulled-together and lovely than what I’ve made. I see the carnage left by an obsessive two-day art binge as every flat surface in my kitchen is covered in Stuff, and I think, “How did it get this bad? Is there a 12-step program for crafting addiction?”
Not sure, but I’ve got it bad.
I have a very dear friend who PMs me on Facebook when she needs to blow off steam. She will snap a photo of her current project, and, because I love her, I don’t tell her how frustratingly easy she makes the process of creation look. Does it stress her out as much as it stresses me out? Probably not, but she’s not mental, either. My recent mastering of a
horrible, evil, wicked official Zentangle pattern called “Paradox” a certain pattern spurred me to snap a pic and beam with pride. I felt like I’d just run a marathon (not that I’d know what that’s like, but I’m sure there are fit, healthy, awesome folks out there who are up to the task… and they probably also have Paradox down, too, the wretches).
It’s a sad thing. It’s an awesome thing.
I need to browse through the sale flyers now. There are killer deals right now on Sharpie fine-tip pens.