Monday, September 3, 2012

There and Back Again: Days 54-58

The trick with long projects like this, I've found, is finding some way to stay engaged. It's easy to fall into a routine, into taking the shortest distance between two points, into doing the thing because it must be done - but once that happens, the reason behind the project is lost. Doing a drawing a day for six months is meaningless if, less than two months in, the drawings became static and labored and easy.

It's my responsibility to notice when this is happening and figure out what to change. Last summer, I didn't do that: over the course of the second half of the project, while there were good days, it was a slow grind downhill and the last week or two were of questionable use. This summer, it took me just a week to catch on - maybe because I've experienced it before, maybe because I'm more aware of my own artmaking.

Whatever the reason, when I hit a wall in the days before this, I was able to feel it. Drawing wasn't fun, the project was a chore, and I found myself drawing just to get it over with - and then getting frustrated when the drawings weren't as good as I knew they could be.

After a page that was particularly slipshod and disappointing, I stepped back and realized I hadn't drawn out of my head hardly ever in the project so far - that, while I had been drawing 'things that I loved', I was accessing them through another's eye. And while I was selecting photos that moved me or attracted me deeply, that was really not a problem. But there are only so many photos that hit me like that, and after 53 days, I was down to picking things because they were pretty.

Turning from that to things from my head was like a breath of fresh air.

Day 54:It was so freeing to draw this page. It just... worked.

Day 55: A character of mine - old and pared down by the elements and life. I wanted to see if I could draw from my head with a specific direction in mind, instead of just putting features down.

Day 56: Not much to say on this. The face really makes me happy!

Day 57: And here's the trap I fell into on most of the previous times I drew out of my head: I just doodled. There's no engagement here, no challenge or investment. It's in no way special, or even that pretty. It's an hour of very lazy drawing.

Day 58: So the next day I did this. And while there are very, very bad proportional errors (I have a bad habit of shortening torsos and hips, and then scaling the legs to that truncated core) I did do my best to be an active participant in this drawing. Its flaws are real, but they're not related to not caring, and it's therefore a success in relation to the one that came before it.

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