Entry from Art Journal: 28th February, “I have begun working on a drawing in which I am not sure, from the very beginning, of the validity of the composition. It is my “A Time to Reflect”. I’m unsure but I want to give it a go. Once more I am at L. de Puybaudet Galerie looking at the plate glass (with reflections). On the left is a bit of rue de Seine with a guy walking away from the viewer. I like the abstract balance of shapes but I’m still uncertain whether the eye will know where to look. Matt says you look straight down the street but I hope that eventually the eye will be pulled toward the light and reflections in the glass. Some compositions are sure things from the word ‘go’ but not this one. But one must take risks and even seeing potential pitfalls, go ahead anyway – using one’s skills to avoid them – or – overcome them. I’ve had a good run since I-don’t-know-when so if this one falls on its face, that is okay.”
Two weeks later and I loved working on “A Time to Reflect”. I was in my element, happily returning to my drawing board each day to conjure up rue de Seine on my piece of paper. Isn’t it peculiar how something which can be so enjoyable to produce can end up as a failed piece? I have approached this type of subject matter so many times; Paris, wet streets, reflections in windows and a solitary figure. I diligently and calmly worked. No alarm bells rang.
Only in the past two days did they start to ring; very quietly at first, almost imperceptibly. But over Saturday and Sunday the bells became shrill and insistent. The work was at that stage where it had left the drawing board (where I sit) and was up at the easel (where I stand and work from a distance). It was the ‘pulling together’ stage. In this case, so much of the drawing seemed to be going as planned but I just couldn’t bring it to a satisfactory conclusion. The joy of working slowly slid to intense frustration. I felt that the plate glass window let down the whole composition. More than that; the drawing was in essence a left side (street) and a right side (building with glass) which would not, under any circumstances, unite. The work consisted of two unrelated parts instead of a whole…disunity.
Take a look. The image below is what I was going to post to you this week. Instead I messed around some more after I took this photo; more adjustments, more rubbing out, more colour added…(it’s turning to mud) before admitting to myself that it was all over.
Actually once I had made up my mind that all was lost and ripped it up, it was a relief. The nearly-right yet could-never-be-right work would not taunt me any more.
I liked so much of “A Time to Reflect” and yet, and yet…my efforts fell short. Should I have listened to the warning thoughts which I wrote about on 28th February? No, I’m glad I tried. I’m bound to have learned something. And at least I have the fun of blogging about it! A time to reflect, a time to destroy… As The Byrds sang, “I swear it’s not too late”.
postscript: 24th April 2014. Out of the ashes of this drawing a phoenix rose. It is a drawing of the same area as my ruined drawing. This drawing (finished yesterday) is testament that nothing is wasted. Though I ripped up the drawing “A Time to Reflect” I learned from working on it and I put that knowledge into the newest drawing “Rue de l’Echaudé”. The image below shows the new drawing and its post is here.
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