The above image shows an entry into my art journal with a piece of ripped up drawing glued to the page. I have kept an art journal, by the way, since 1998. It isn’t like a diary which is written in every day but I write whenever I feel like it. (Currently I’ve just begun volume 11.)
I kept this relic of a drawing because I liked Kotomi’s eyes even though the drawing was no good. The heavy scribbled lines over the drawing indicate my state of mind – ‘THAT’S IT!!!’ – as I killed the work with angry strokes before ripping it up. (I usually furiously scribble over a picture before ripping.)
Art students may have the mistaken belief that professional artists don’t have failures. Perhaps some don’t but I have many failures. Even though I don’t like having them, they are important as they are a result of forging forward into difficult territory. (I think.)
It is easy to be disheartened though and I find I easily lose confidence when a work has gone into the rubbish bin. (I tell myself that the drawing AFTER a failure always works out. History seems to support this theory. Anyway, I’m sticking to it.)
Sometimes there is such a fine line between a work succeeding and ending up in the rubbish. The “Ichifuku-san” drawing I just finished nearly didn’t make it. I couldn’t get the face right but I was desperate to make it work as I had invested a lot of myself into it. I put some geisha singing on the CD player to try to channel that energy into my head and hand – and actually that worked. The drawing came right. Saved by the geisha singing. (I don’t know what the neighbours thought. I had the volume up quite high.)
The trouble with pencils is, they are so labour intensive that I can be working on something for a couple of weeks before I realise it is a lost cause and ditch it.
All the same, as bitter a pill as a failure is, it is still an important part of learning. The learning never stops whether you are a student or a professional. Hence the failures never stop. ______________________________________________________
I saw the film “Hitchcock” today with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. In the story, Alfred Hitchcock thinks “Psycho”, the film he is working on, is a failure. He says to his wife, Alma, “I didn’t pull off the picture this time. It just sits there, refusing to come to life…” -then – “There’s no other way to say it…it’s stillborn.”
I couldn’t put it better myself. That is exactly how it feels when a drawing is not working. Those spoken words were so familiar to me that I had to scrabble for a pen and paper from my bag, whilst in the dark cinema, to write them down.
ps if you would like to see the five drawings of Kotomi which DID work, they are on the post Five Views of Kotomi