Off Like a Herd of Turtles

This quote has nothing to do with art really, but it showed up in my Facebook feed, and I loved it.

I’m sharing it here because this is exactly how I’m feeling this morning. I had a busy day yesterday, and while I got a lot done — both here in the studio and with household projects — I still had several items remaining on my to-do list. Planning our menu for next week. Ordering groceries. Checking with different companies on various orders I’ve placed. And on and on.

With so much to do, I felt absolutely no motivation. I did get the groceries taken care of, so that chore is out of the way, but then when I turned my attention to art, I just shrugged and felt a sort of ennui. If you’ve been around here long, you know I really don’t speak French — I read it, but refuse to speak it — yet sometimes I have to grab a word or two simply because it is perfect for the occasion.

Ennui — which has crossed over into the English language — is described as “a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.” It’s not a lack of things to do, but rather a lack of desire, almost a sense of purposelessness.

Is that how I’m really feeling?

I tend to exaggerate, of course, but in many ways I am feeling a bit rudderless, indecisive, and uncertain about art right now. Oh, I have lots of exciting projects ahead of me. I’m enjoying the start of my 100-day landscape art project, and I’ve had fun with acrylic pouring and painting. I’m getting ready to pull my alcohol inks out again, and I’m definitely going to be doing more doodling of the Zen sort, letting myself slip into that blissful meditative state that comes from pen, ink, and mark-making.

But this morning, I’m finding it all but impossible to get started. I did read more about tonalism, and maybe later I’ll go to the easel and complete my 100-day “assignment”. Or maybe not. All I really feel like doing today is sitting down, maybe finding a good movie to watch, and simply letting the day pass by.

So, forgive me, please, for not having an inspiring post about art, an interesting look at the lives of famous artists or the stories behind their works. I’m sorry I don’t have an informative post about new materials or new methods.

I’m definitely off like a herd of turtles this morning, so I’m going to slowly make my way back to the kitchen, find something delicious to eat, and settle down in my comfortable recliner. Yes, it’s just one of those days, and that’s all right.

As creative individuals, we need to learn when, where, and how to set limits. There are times when our spirits sag — for what may seem to be no apparent reason. It’s just a time for re-charging. And, hey, turtles are good. They’re fun to draw, too.

So, since this is an art blog, I’ll dig deep down into the archives to share one of my favorite drawings. This sea turtle was my very first colored pencil drawing, and I was so proud of it! I’m still proud of it today.

Drawings like this helped me begin to believe in myself, to believe that maybe I really could learn to draw, and maybe I really could become an artist.

I guess the moral of my story today is that there’s nothing wrong with being a turtle or getting off to a slow start. Sometimes that’s exactly what we need.



    1. You are so right! I did come back down to the studio yesterday afternoon after writing that post. I read a little more, and I did actually finish an oil painting. I was in a much more relaxed, comfortable state of mind. Giving myself permission to “take the morning off” was a wise choice for me.

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  1. “Off like a herd of turtles!” I love it!! I work with the elderly and this reminds me of one particular fellow. I took him to a doctor’s appointment and before pulling out of the assisted living, he said to me, “we are off like a herd of turtles.” I had never it before either and I thought it was a delightful expression! You have made me smile this morning!! Thanks for sharing! Have a wonderfully, inspiring day!!

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  2. oh! The turtle drawing is fantastic! I’m still learning how to wield a color pencil. I have yet to achieve this level of fabulousness. I would love to have a herd of turtles to travel with. Alas, it seems I can’t keep up!

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    1. I was very pleased with the sea turtle. It took several days to finish, working very slowly on the color blending and burnishing. You might check out The Virtual Instructor and see what free tutorials he has for colored pencils. It’s one of his favorite media, so you’ll probably find a lot of good information. If you need any links, let me know!

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