Today I finished slaving over a drawing which I have called “Vertical Hierarchy”. The drawing took three weeks and rather predictably ended with a bout of ‘art personality disorder’. I get this affliction each time I have to pull a drawing together at the end stage. Why can’t it just be a smooth and gentle process from first pencil mark until the finishing line? That would be too easy.
Instead the stage is set for a battle royale each time an almost-completed drawing is taken off the drawing board (which I sit at to work) to the easel (where the remainder of the work is done from a standing position and I can observe the drawing from a distance). Moods swing from triumphant – “I’ve done it!” to horror-stricken – “It’s NO GOOD.” You probably think I’m exaggerating but I’m not. If you have read my posts ‘Art Hell’ and ‘Art Hell 2′ you will know that some drawings end up being shredded. The ones that don’t end terminally are still at grave risk in these final stages which can take several tortuous days to endure.
Family members are called up for their opinions. Hands are wrung. Eyes are half-closed with concentration. Yesterday I wailed to Matthew “I’ve overdone the lantern. It isn’t red enough; it isn’t standing out.” We were just about to go out. His considered reply was “Put more green around it.” He said this as he was walking out of the room. BOLT FROM THE BLUE. My civil engineer husband just stated the absolute obvious. Why didn’t I think of it? (Golden rule: to make a colour stand out, surround it with its complement.) I put a green pencil on top of my other pencils to remind me to carry this out after our coffee break up the road.
At the café, I was discontentedly mulling over the drawing. I could hardly have been good company as all I could think was ‘I’ve ruined it.’ There was no reason to be unhappy other than art anxiety, which is why I call this state ‘art personality disorder’. In the process of working a drawing to its conclusion I go on a wild ride. It can be fun and it can be awful…and WILL be both these things (one after another ad infinitum) in every case until some sort of conclusion is reached.
When we got home I made a beeline for that green pencil and got to work. Of course it made a difference. When I told Matthew how he had stated the obvious, he replied “You taught me well.” That Matt! After some more work I knew that “Vertical Hierarchy” was finally on safe ground. The madness subsided…until next time…when art personality disorder and I will meet again at the easel to fight it out.
Vertical Hierarchy is the link for the work-in-progress page where you can see this drawing in six stages from beginning to end.
Since 2006 I have drawn six variations of this scene. All six drawings are together on the page called “Subject 5: Lantern Set”.
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