Honeymoon’s over; work has begun. I wage a constant battle between what I see and what I feel. In order to get more expressive drawings, I must select from what I see, the elements that express what I feel when I look at an object. I finally reached a point where I felt my drawing skills had been thirty years ago. That was satisfying for a few weeks and then my desire to go beyond being a mere student and really making art kicked in. So I decided to challenge myself by changing drawing materials. I will draw in ink. Can’t be erased and will encourage a more fluid line. I want boldness, the confident, sure line
that characterizes great drawings.
Naturally, I set up in a very difficult spot for my first attempt. The sun came out and there was no real place to stand in the shade where I could see the mermaids on the fountain I wanted to draw. My umbrella, rigged to my chair, did not prevent the heat from turning me into my own fountain, as the sweat dripped down my legs. The place was too public and people kept walking by which made my stomach cramp. Between the nerves and the heat I began to feel nauseous and I gave up for the day.
All week I thought about how I would tackle this project. When I went back, I armed myself with an ink wash so that I could start a light drawing and move into the dark ink after some initial figuring out. So much for boldness. I caught myself several times moving away from the energy of the fountain and into the static technicalities of selecting the things that make the drawing look “real.” I am my own worst enemy. I produced an okay drawing, which I posted, after many that have already hit the recycle bin.
I am still not satisfied, and at some point I will return to the mermaids. When, I am not sure. But I am sure that I will work at this until I get it.
As with drawing, so also with writing, as I know from experience. The battle there is to retain the spontaneity of the first expression while trying to refine it, modify it, or correct it as new details are discovered and thoughts are nuanced. So often, then, the freshness becomes stale. In the end, when you have brought the full thought to expression and have finished the writing, a feeling follows (the next day or several days later) of disappointment: How did I write only this? This is two-dimensional, while what I was feeling was three-dimensional!
As you say, we’re our own worst enemies, because these pessimistic thoughts are usually too severe. What we really need to do is allow the spontaneity to go unedited, and then to put the work aside for a fairly long time. When we return to it we can appreciate it for what it is and immediately adjust the few details that can be adjusted without destroying the freshness.