Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers?
Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors? (Proverbs 5:13 NLT)
Writing and art making are my instructors. When I listen to the words on the page or contemplate the images, they sometimes lead me to discoveries. The words and the images draw me back time and time again. They instill in me a desire to write and make more.
Words and images generate ideas for me. Sometimes though, I have no idea what to do with all my ideas. I do not know how to move from imagination to creation. My intention to execute the idea falls short of my expectation. Some times such obstacles can defeat me, other times I look for an alternate solution.
I had an idea to trace a side view of a face in a magazine. (I’m always challenging myself to do the thing I fear the most: to draw a face. I watch tutorials, read how-to books, and then I fall short of my expectation.) One technique to overcome my fear of drawing is to trace.
So I planned to trace a face, and then try to draw a face. My first limitation was that I did not have any tracing paper nearby. So I remembered a transfer technique that I read about somewhere. Scribble on the back of the image you want to trace with a lead pencil or black crayon. Then trace the image onto a piece of paper.
The fourth one is the series, I drew free hand. The other three, I traced.
The day I was trying this, I was also reading a book on drawing. The title intrigued me, and the fact that the author was from St. Louis inspired me. I was hopeful that he would be able to instruct me in the skill of drawing. Drawing is Magic by John Hendrix held a magic word within its pages. Iteration. It even sounds magical, but in reality it is very practical, and even practicable.
Here’s what he says about iteration:
Even lifelong artists can be fooled into believing the myth that the best art is created whole, in a single moment of inspiration. Perhaps some good ideas can come in a flash, but in my experience, most great ideas are surrounded by bad ones–hundreds of bad ones! Bad drawings and bad ideas aren’t worthless; in fact, they are required. Iteration is essential . . . when you iterate drawings over and over, looking for as much variety as you can generate, while you are concentrating on variations and subtleties, you may just forget to worry about making a bad drawing and make a good one by accident.
Yes, iteration is practice. The practice of doing something repetitively in order to gain skill.
So I traced and traced, and even made one drawing free hand. (Mind you I only made a few iterations, but something magical happened later in the day, as I played with my seven layer technique of creating a mixed-media collage. The seventh element that I chose for my collage was focal point. I sat looking at the layers and the idea emerged to paint a face on the background. Before iteration, I would have dismissed the idea.
As I finished my work, I realized that my iteration practice earlier that morning showed up in this latter work. Magical.
Here’s your prompt for today:
When I have an idea, I . . .