It’s becoming more and more clear to me that art sometimes looks bad or just wrong before it gets good. I’m sure that’s totally obvious to most artists, but coming from a design background it was more common that I’d gather my elements — this stage did often look messy — then assemble them on the layout in a fairly clean way. Maybe it was the nature of working digitally vs. by hand with things that get all over my fingers and work area.
Lately, as I’ve been learning more techniques and media, I’ve been experiencing moments in my paintings and sketches where it just feels like it’s not going to work. The other night I completed the profile portrait exercise from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and in the middle of the session I felt like giving up. I was drawing my husband, so of course he’s very recognizable to me and any element of the drawing that was off stood out a ton. I was struggling to get my drawing to look like him, but I kept going and am so glad I did! The final drawing eventually came together and it’s thrilling to see it actually looking like him.
It reminds me of a podcast episode I just listened to. A friend recently turned me on to the Jealous Curator podcast
, and one of the first that I played was the interview with Lisa Congdon
where she mentions the painting curve and pushing through the messiness*. The idea is that you start out with a nice, clean canvas, then as you start working you get to the low point in the curve where it gets messy and difficult. The key is to keep going and push yourself back up to the top of the curve where things are beautiful again.
I love that she shared this idea because it’s much too easy for me to assume that an artist has a vision and then perfectly executes that vision — and that’s what defines them as talented. This thought is toxic when it comes to creativity. I’m working on embracing the messiness and trusting that when I keep going I’ll get somewhere that was worth pushing through the messiness.
This daily sketch is a good example of that. I almost pulled the plug on it, sure it was failing. But I kept going and can see a lot of things I like about it.
|Can you see my center hatch marks along the edges? I’m working on drawing more accurately by using the marks along with a viewfinder. They’re really helpful tools, but I stink at holding the viewfinder still while I sketch…
It’s done on a gessoed page in my Canson XL Mix Media sketchbook, with Neocolor II crayons, Stabilo All Pencils, black gouache, and additional white gesso layered on top.
*Lisa also talks about this idea in her book Art, Inc. Excerpts can be read here. It’s a great book that I’ll be referencing again as I get further down my art and illustration path.