Saturday, April 24, 2010

Failed drawings explanation

Hi, I usually dont like to show unfinished or failed drawings, because when I finish or re-use ideas from failed drawings, the impact will be lessened because you have already seen the ideas in some form. But since it has taken me so long to make a substantial post of my own art, I figured I would just do this and break my rule for once.

This is really bitter failure too, because I was doing these for an exhibition coming shortly, the first professional thing I've ever had and I've kind of blown it. I feel really guilty about it since the curator is very nice and enthusiastic about my work, and although I have been taking it seriously, I havent got fully into my head how good an oppurtunity this is to take advantage of. I still have time to do a picture, but it sadly wont be the big fantastic thing I would've wanted to show.

I had heard several times that really terrible artists block comes around my age (23) but I had assumed the tough time had come early for me when I was 14. The problems are exactly the same as they were back then and there is no great mystery to the solution to get past this rough patch, I just really really have to love what I'm going to draw. But the required amount of love for the drawings has to increase as you get older. It is most frustrating because there are lots of ideas of mine I love, but I dont know what to do with them to make them lovable enough to draw with the energy to finish it.
This block is really a blessing because it forces you to climb much higher, pretty much forces you to become a better artist, give up or become a hack.

The difficulties started in November when I started doing an idea I really adore with 3 black robed figures standing on an odd platform and hanging off it at different sides. I tried it about 3 times and it kept feeling too familiar and boring, I'm still puzzled what to do with the idea.

Then when I moved back to the lovely village of Eaglesham in December I started drawing this flying worm guy tied up in a straightjacket thing. I tried it 4 times and I currently have no idea what to do with it.

Then in January I tried to draw a warm friendly topless milf 5 times and I think I know what to do with the idea now.

Then I started with this idea of a hundred headed man with two or three bodies being held in place in the sky by 4 diagonal castles. I adored the idea. I ended up trying this about 10 times, 5 of the attempts are here. I didnt throw them out because I needed to keep them to re-use the ideas properly. Each time I was so damn sure that it was going to work. The major problem with this idea was trying to convey the size of the hundred headed giant without using some visual device I've seen too often, like a little man in the forefront of the image and something in the distance to compare sizes.

The problem with this one is that I started bringing in too much architecture to compare sizes and I got carried away with the baroque designs and it completely taken the right feel out of it. I really want to re-use some of the designs for a comic sequence someday. These was supposed to be further tied up hundred-heads in the distance and beneath them was the ground many miles down.

The problem with this one is that I started putting in an extreme emotional struggle in it that I really wasnt committed to. There was supposed to be very many of these hundred headed two bodied men being lifted up into the sky by these weird evil heads with ropes made of lots of arms. around the evil heads there was ornate black steel with little men inside. Below there was to be moons and an enromous gothic landscape at an odd scary angle.
The hundred-heads were supposed to be fighting against the evil heads and swinging the arm ropes around. The hundred-head at the front was supposed to be swinging the arm rope connected to the evil head into the forefront, the ornate metal surrounding the evil head would have little men falling out, showing the size comparison.
I felt this was too much like something out of a videogame or movie, something I'd like, but I didnt feel good about it looking so much like God of War. I wanted something that felt fresher.

Then suddenly I fell in love with the idea of multiple snake-like shapes of lots of conjoined horses coiling around in a big maze made of their bodies and the hundred-heads could ride them. In several attempts the size comparison would be done by this deformed thing holding out regular sized people in his hand. I ended up feeling that the deformed man taken too much focus and I also felt that him holding people out felt a little cliched too.

In this one there was supposed to be thousands of people swirling around the place, but it overwhelmed the horses in the focus. The people were close up but still very small, and tiny in the distance in huge clusters of people.

With this one I wanted to do a two picture sequence which would be an easier and better way to show the size comparison without using devices I find a little tiresome. You can see the two women on the hundred-head, and I got more detail into the heads. So I could just do the main image and have no other things competing for attention. Drawing it was fairly enjoyable at points, but it was mostly a joyless experience and I knew then this wasnt going to work.

It probably sounds petty and seems like I'm being too stupid and impatient to finish these, but believe me when I tell you that these drawings would be awful if I did finish them. When you start to realise something is wrong, your enthusiasm sinks dangerously low, then you know the quality of the drawing will go progressively downhill and will look very uneven in imagination/passion. It just gets IMPOSSIBLE to keep drawing it when you know those things. I really tried hard to stick with it each time.
Every time I started a new attempt I thought "I've got it this time!". I know the reasons they didnt work. I really did love the ideas and I will keep them for later drawings, but I think I just cant do too much repetition in a drawing, I need to keep it varied, I think this is one of my biggest weaknesses, but I end up using it as a strength. It annoys me I cant do large buildings with repeating sections, so I always have to change each section. This is the same with having to keep doing the same horses, it was unbearably boring to do.
When I return to that horses idea it will be a lot wilder and have loads of other stuff going on, and it will lose a certain power that the original idea had, but atleast I'll have the enthusiasm to finish it.

The other problem with doing these epic scale drawings is that I become too conscious that these could be impressive to other people. My motivation to finish these was very much to let other people see them, which is wrong for me. I need my ideas to be so fun for me to draw, that it is not overwhelmed by outside concerns. I always want to do these epic scale drawings, so I need to learn to keep other people out of my head.

All these drawings I've talked about since November I was really certain would be easy because I thought each one was so cool. But I realised sometimes you need so much more to make it work. Sometimes I need to think about why I even bother drawing at all, because it was so joyless so much of the last few months. I am completely set on the idea of it having to be really enjoyable, I dont want to do drawings that take 60 hours and not even enjoy it. I need to keep stopping myself from being a guy who draws out of habit to keep ticking ideas off the list and keep doing it for the joy. My entire life is built around my art, the way I experience everything is connected to the hope of expressing those things properly in drawing and painting. Since my life is built around it, actually doing the drawings is the only thing I can do to find any real lasting happiness. TRUE CRAVING to create an image is the most important thing to actually making good art.

I'm starting to think "Entertainment" is a better idea than "Art" for me. It's easy to be arty, but so fucking hard to be entertaining. Entertainment gets a bad name probably because it is associated with pleasing a broad audience, but forget about the aspect of who and how many people to entertain, think about how much it takes to entertain YOU. It is a toweringly enormous effort to be entertaining, just measure how much each thing you consumed recently entertained you. Blockbuster movies and saturday night TV are not entertainment because they never entertain. Very rarely do I see anything apart from music and nude girl photos that entertain me in a substantial way that makes me feel really great and happy. I've bought over 200 movies in the past year and only about 20 really made me feel amazing.

I know we were to move away from talking too much about our philosophies to art, but I think this post needed it.


meyerprints said...

Marcel Ruijters said...

As I am new here, I hesitate to comment, but, I do appreciate your courage to show some failed art and that alone deserves some feedback. My feeling is that you might benefit of working less conceptually. A man with a hundred heads is a pretty wild idea that sounds like a piece of art that has gotten out of control, while you had the concept from the beginning. The trick might be to try and draw like a (small) child: for fun and not caring about what may come out of it. Don't think of the art you are doing as a masterpiece-to-be. I don't mean that you should lower your standards, but to think too much of end results is to forget about the pleasure of drawing itself. I have to remind myself sometimes...

Gaiihin Gobulblœme said...

@Marcel : please do not hesitate to comment.

@Robert: I must say I destroyed the last drawing I started. The horses look good. You could improvise something else with this pattern. Remember you have to improvise and adjust and think of other ideas when drawing: we seem to think that we grab everything with the mind before to start drawing, but actually we almost have nothing… With ideas everything seems wide, intense or perfect but it is just simple and deprived of truth and flesh... we realise this when adjusting our ideas and mixing them with other necessary element.


I would say don't hesitate to write about art ideas on here. I think that issue came up during the big flame wars involving persons un-named. Anyhow, i think my most frustrated period as an artist was throughout my 20s. I found it difficult to both learn about new art & then feel secure in my own work. I was definitely more interested in learning than i was in even doing work, & yet i was more prolific during this period than i had ever been before. Anyhow, i was noticing in these pieces that you aren't using very strong geometric set-ups initially. I find that if i lay out some geometric forms for a drawing before i do any work on it, i like triangles & intersecting triangles in particular, grids also, it makes the piece more desirable to finish. I would also not do any shading until i had done the base linework on everything. I encourage you to keep working on these pieces, they really invoke feelings of Norse mythology & i'm interested to see where you're going with them. Also, yes, i agree that doing some "play" with your drawing is very freeing & can lead you places you might not have gone when you're concentrating on a "masterpeso".

Aeron said...

I think you would benefit greatly from working in washes from extreme light to dark, pulling the darks in to emphasize depth. That would work incredibly well for this architecture of horse bodies coiling up, you could have parts in the background shown in lighter washes, darks at the foreground, etc.

I think this is a very intriguing concept for an image and hope that you pursue it further after these attempts. It feels like an epic piece and I think you should make the size fit the imagery, go to an art store and buy one of those gigantic expensive sheets of paper, something heavy stock, rag paper, perhaps watercolor paper if you like the texture. Then go to a hardware store and get an employee to cut a thin sturdy piece of wood to a size that would be slightly larger than the size paper you are working on to support it and make it easier to work on without the concern of ripping or bending the paper.

Aeron said...

Also, do you use varying brush sizes when you work in inks? And I know it's the holy grail of every artist and it doesn't exist but in our minds when we feel hopeful in going to a store and think just maybe this time we'll find that bottle of pure white ink, but if you could find a means of watering down acrylic, or another medium, to function as a white, I feel you would have an easier time working if you had the opportunity to remove or adapt mistakes.

MD Encolpius said...

What everyone has said is pretty much right on. Also, if you are working on a large project, I have found it to be a good idea to do studies. I used to hate doing them. But I realized you get to figure a lot of stuff out, and it helps the idea to grow. Eveybody expeirences periods where every piece seems to go to hell, you can either take a short break and reassess, or work your way through it.

Kurt Komoda said...

Showing and seeing failed art is a wonderful thing, and I'm glad you posted yours. I always enjoy seeing the screw ups, unused studies, or incomplete works of artists. They provide much more insight into the mind and the process of the artist. In this case, it also allows others to offer advice on the unfinished journey.

Whenever I look at an art book of one of the world's greatest artists, I concentrate more on the sketches than on the finished pieces. I wish there was an entire volume of unfinished art and mistakes by the great masters.