Whenever I get “blocked” (think “writer’s block” but for artists), it’s psychological. I mean it’s not because I’ve inexplicably run out of ideas. It’s usually something else entirely. I’m distracted or… well, it’s usually because I’m distracted, but for a variety of reasons.
Maybe I was looking at Michelangelo too much… but I kept getting the feeling that I was primed to make a mistake, and I just didn’t want to botch something that could look so awesome. Which is absurd at my age… to buckle under some imaginary pressure to do well.
Or the pressure was real but not because of the work itself. It was pressure from just wanting to do it well. Have you ever watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn, when Holly Golightly starts going on about the “mean reds?” I can’t say it was as dramatic as that, but I was responding to something outside of what I was working on and the work is what suffered.
Not sure where this falls under the bell curve… but I’m better now. I put it aside for Christmas and New Year’s… and on… and then said, f*** it, and started going at it again.
I decided to keep doing what I had already been doing, which I had told myself not to do for fear of making the drawing look too simple. To my surprise, it does not look too simple.
Moreover, while seeing something that works take shape, I began to see the why’s and how’s behind how it works.
VS Michelangelo’s Study of a Mourning Woman (SOMW)
I had done a few studies with the ambition of making my flowers look as cool as SOMW. I tried to apply the technique, above, and although I succeeded with the petal that points towards the left (fourth flower, below), I can’t say the same for the petals that are vertical. Only when I reverted back to doing what I did for the first set of flowers (the drooping ones), did I realize the ambition to look like SOMW was a major part of what “blocked” me.
Michelangelo was probably looking at a real live woman, so his ambition was to draw her realistically. On the other hand, it’s not perfectly realistic; IE, there are some “short cuts” or places that don’t require as much detail because other places deserve more attention. These “short cuts” are abstractions and involve choices having to do with style.
Choosing the balance between realism and abstraction can be a very conscious choice (especially if you’re like me and over-analyze everything).
My Flowers (1) are a product of my imagination and (2) I began with outlines, so my end goal must be an abstraction or much more of one than SOMW. To finish Flowers, I had to decide on the style of lines and follow through with that style. I had to decide on “doing more of the same,” regardless of my fears of ending up with a “simple drawing.”
People believe SOMW was an early drawing of Michelangelo’s. He was doing what many others were already doing. He just did it extremely well. He had good lines and kept them evenly spaced apart, which yielded great visual rhythm.
My Flowers also rely heavily on visual rhythm. The technique is simple, but it relies on me doing it well. It’s a matter of having good eyes and good hands. and has manifested, thus far, from what was already there, organically.
To be continued…