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 – in my opinion.
It is easy to be disheartened though and I find I can lose confidence when a work has gone into the rubbish bin. However confidence returns after a small interval.
Coloured pencils are so labour intensive that I can be working on something for a couple of weeks before I realize it is a lost cause.
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, while in the dark cinema, to write them down.
Afterword: a note on the subject of failure in 2020 – I give every work I begin permission to fail. This doesn’t mean I want it to fail. I will do everything I can to make it work out. But I must be able to push my boundaries as far as possible. This way I know that I do my best work. If I played it safe I would be bored.
ps if you would like to see the five drawings of Kotomi which DID work, they are on the post Five Views of Kotomi