After my lastself portrait went horribly wrong, Idecided it was time for a re-think. I’ve been drawing and painting again for just a shade over four months now,so this seems like as good a time as any for a reassessment of where I’m headed and how I’m doing.
We all need to step back every once in a while and take a good look in the mirror, I think that’s even moreimportant with creative work. It strikes me that I’ve been spending too much timelooking in a mirror andnot enough time thinking about how I’m doing, whether I’m still on the right track. So I’ve been taking time outover the last few days to think about things.
When I started working again back in late September, my one and only aim was to get my drawing and painting skillsback. To that end I’ve been working on some series of subjects,(still lifes,self portraits,hands,) concentrating on learning to seethingsproperly, and trying to get them down as faithfully as I can, whilst not getting too involved in trying to producefinished work. The general idea has been that by producing a series of quick sketches, I will progress faster.
Things don’t always work out as planned though, and I’ve been losing my way a bit lately. I firmly believe thatwe learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. My last self portrait was a failure, and this whatI’ve learned from it:
Instead of sticking with my original plan, I’ve let myself become increasingly concerned with trying to producemore finished work. This has led to frustration, and a feeling that I’m not progressing fast enough. I’ve been tyingmyself in knots and berating myself for not working hard enough, not being good enough, just about anything.Very counter productive. Worst of all I’ve stopped enjoying it.
I believe that human beings naturally do well at things they enjoy. Especially if you’re a lazy getlike me who finds it near impossible to stick at something if I’m bored with it. This is especially relevant fordrawing and painting I think. I’ve realised that no matter how pragmatic I try to be, something of me will comeacross in all the work I do, and if I’m not enjoying myself it shows. In some ways I think that’s what makesdrawing and painting so interesting, and it can be very bland without it. It can also get in the way though.
I’ve been getting too involved with that side of things lately. Its unavoidable upto a point I suppose, but I mustn’t let it run away with me. Its going to take some self discipline to stop ithappening again, self discipline being something else I’m very bad at, but I’m going to try regardless.
So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to do any more self portraits, I’m putting thelid back on that particular can of worms. I am going to start a bunch of new series.
To stop me getting involved in trying to produce finished portraits before I’m ready, I’m going to break thehead down into its constituent parts and do a series of each part, starting with the features:
- Twenty eyes
- Twenty noses
- Twenty mouths
Most of them will probably be my eyes, nose and mouth, mainly because I’m always available to sit for myselfwhen I feel like drawing, but they won’t be self portraits. I’ll be continuing withthe twenty hands series, there’s still ten of those to do. I’m also missing painting,and if I don’t watch it I’ll forget everything I’ve picked up so far, so I’ll be continuing with the still lifesketches, but they have to be simple and quick, so:
- Ten single objects
And now to the last part. I need to get out of this room more, I need to draw people. I’m going to start a newseries of sketches of people in public places, for which I’ve got hold of a little A5 ring bound pad. They’re onlygoing to be small like this for three reasons, one because a little pad is easy to carry around, two because Ican be more discrete with it (I don’t want people to know I’m drawing them,) and three because I’m lesslikely to overwork the drawings if they’re only small.
I’m going to set aside two mornings a week for this (I hope)and I’m going to start in the Cafe Nero down the road. The Cafe Nero is perfect because people sit around in there,I can get a coffee, and it seems to be one of the few cafes in Epsom that lets you smoke fags. There’s not goingto be any number set for these sketches, but I do plan to do it at least twice a week. Although I expect the sketchesto be awful to start with, it should improve my speed and my accuracy over time, while I’ll be getting some goodpractice with the form of heads etc.
So that’s it, the new plan, and I’ll post everything up here as I do it. The most important things are that Istay away from lengthy, overworked drawings, and that I get the enjoyment back. Hopefully working in this way willhelp me to do both those things.
Wish me luck…
Posted 2nd February 2006
The Keys to Colour - Free 6 step email course
Learn how to:
- mix any colour accurately
- see the value of colours
- lighten or darken a colour without messing it up
- paint with subtle, natural colour