These are the notes I picked from the pile for you this week.
I found this quote in the Substack of, you may know that I’ve been working on editing and labelling the 500 ish Newsletter’s I’ve written. I’ve come to think of all the notes before this as a kind of diary of how I became a picture-book illustrator , and that story of becoming is riddled with inconsistency. This note helps me take comfort in knowing that I was not writing a fixed identity, but rather an identity in process. Creating these notes is now becoming less of a diary and a bit more of treasure hunting. While the diary may have been useful, I hope you will find these treasures even more so.
This note is based on the prelude of “Mastermind: How to think like Sherlock Holmes” a book by Maria Konnikova. I read the chapter then asked myself what I had learned and fumbled around with words out loud until I formed the sentence. As an illustrator I need to observe before I can draw. I need to direct attention to the subject and also my response to the subject in my head.
There is a kind of mindless drawing that produces a mindless lifeless kind of art, and then there is what I try to do, which is try to compose an illustration that is like a visual sentence. I say it’s what I try to do… I don’t always succeed. And when I fail, it’s a failure of directing attention correctly.
In this NPR interview, Anna Lembke explains that Pleasure and Pain are two sides of a scale that is always seeking to be in balance. If we fill one side of the scale with pleasure, (Social Media, Rich Food, Youtube, Tech, etc.) Little “Pain-Gremlins” rush to fill the other side of the scale, which is what you need more and more pleasure to move the scale. It works in reverse too, the ‘pain’ of a cold shower or exercise, fills the other side of the scale with little ‘Pleasure-bunnies’. With that in mind this outrageous idea to seek out the right kind of pain just might be worth paying attention to.
In a creative practice that might mean giving yourselves real challenges, like learning how to draw horses. Or telling the truth to yourself and others. Directing your attention rather than letting it get pulled by an endless buffet of mindless pleasures.
What do you think?
Did any of the notes spark something for you? What action could you take as a result?
Did you spot any connections between the notes?
Do you have a question we could discuss in the comments?
Also, Let me know what you think about this New Weekly Format of Adam’s Notes. I’ve been collecting Note Cards for a few weeks, and I feel I’m getting better at treasure hunting already, and with practice, I might even get better at discussing them.
I’m going to call you Sparky because you’ve got spark!
I took several screenshots so I’d remember some nuggets that really resonated! I’m working on illustrating my first picture book for a client, and the idea of ‘composing an illustration like a visual sentence’ is a helpful way of putting my goal into focus.
I also enjoyed reading your thoughts on seeking pain over pleasure. I believe in the idea of 50/50 - there’s always going to be both pleasure and pain in our lives. One doesn’t exist without the other. The idea of seeking out/leaning into discomfort is a really interesting take on that and something I’ll be thinking more about
I like this format! The pleasure/pain balance resonated with me. I am almost at the end of a challenge I set for myself. I don't know if it, in itself, would be a "pain", but within each part are oscillating pleasure/pain areas.