Some days, drawing is like flying, or dancing- The work flows. My decisions are confident, results exciting. On those days, no one, anywhere, is having more fun than I am.
Of course, not every day is like that. I wish they all were; and I do what I can to make them happen. But there are days when, for whatever reasons (most predictable), the work is just that: work. If I’m tired, or under the weather; if I’ve been working too much, and drawn the well dry for a time- On days like that, it’s hard to do my best work.
Or at least, it feels harder. Over the years, though, I’ve learned that how I feel about a drawing’s progress- particularly, on days when I don’t feel my best, myself- isn’t necessarily a reliable indicator of how well the work’s actually going, or how successful the result will be.
For me, much of the challenge of working regularly and productively lies in this: As an artist, what I have to rely on most is how I feel. I have to trust, be comfortable with my own response to every choice, every decision. And yet, there are those times when I recognize that how I feel- about what I’m capable of, about any given choice, result- is simply not that trustworthy today.
Sometimes, I may elect to set aside whatever I’ve been working on, begin a new drawing instead. No risk there, no pressure to avoid making bad choices, blowing a drawing that may already represent much time and work. And sometimes, I’ll realize that it’s not a day for drawing at all. But most days, regardless of how I feel, I need to work; and often, I need to continue working on the current project. So I do.
I’ve learned to pick my spots, though. Mostly, by limiting the choices I need to make to smaller ones: Working on already established passages that require no major decision-making, only fleshing-out, polishing. Mist, sky, still water- Those kinds of passages and surfaces that may demand a significant amount of refinement.
Tedious work, sometimes. But there’s a time for everything, I think. Some days, I’m not yet ready to round the next bend in the road: I need to pause, finish what needs to be done here before I move on. Soon, the light will change, become beckoning, full of promise again. But for now, at the least, I can spend some time making mist look like mist should.