One of the most beautiful things about Old Master figure drawings is that these artists left remnants of their drawing process evident on the page. They went through layers and layers of experimentation and struggle to arrive at something that felt right. Multiple hands, gesturally drawn next to a more precise rendering allow us to feel, centuries later, humanness in the work. And it is work. Hard work. Why not show it?
Our process often crescendos to an ultimate image after searching, editing, recomposing, redrawing, etc…Sometimes this process can get heated and frustrating. This is the grit.
Are you willing to let the texture of this journey show in the final work? Where is the evidence of your hand? Did you fail and then persevere with enough conviction to rein in the chaos and try again? Making authentic work is a continuous cycle of inspiration, effort, failure, chaos/fear and then the bravery to try again. The most potent image is often somewhere in the fall out of this cycle. You might be surprised to find that what you pre-conceived is much less exciting than the accidental remnants of your effort.
Who cares what others think. For some people it is terrifying to reveal process and imperfection in their work so they erase and cover the most exciting parts. It isn’t about creating some sort of pristine masterpiece. That is why sketchbooks are so important. They are an intimate training ground in bravery. Can we retain this freshness transitioning beyond the sketchbook?
You have to be willing to fail. In fact, invite failure. Sometimes, although rarely, I get in a jag with my painting when I feel it is flowing a little too well. If my approach starts to feel slick and easy, I don’t trust it anymore. I know in my heart that I am not being as brave as I could be. That is when I always up the ante by adapting the approach. Refresh an edge. I always want to be a little bit afraid. If you aren’t afraid, then you aren’t taking enough chances. Don’t be soft. Being open to failure allows the ripest potentials for breakthroughs and disaster but takes righteous strength.
Until next week…step outside of your comfort zone and see what happens. Be brave. CREATE.