Processing the Process

I’ve told you a bunch lately that I love, love, love drawing these little Bic drawings.  But what I haven’t told you is that there’s a point, in just about EVERY single one of them, that I think, “Oh no! this is going horribly wrong! Will this be salvageable?”  To keep myself from declaring, “I should quit now before it really gets bad!” demands a good deal of mental fortitude.  I just don’t dwell on it for long and I set my mind to try and correct, adjust, realign whatever is going wrong.

Take the above drawing as an example.  I knew at the outset this was an ambitious endeavor to create this type of pen drawing of so many things.  Usually it’s best to just pick ONE thing, or ONE juncture between things to draw, so as not to overwhelm the senses.  But I thought, why not go for it?  I began simply enough with the mug, the coaster it sits on and the table top.  But right as I began to see the overall shape the mug was taking, I knew it wouldn’t hold coffee upright if it were indeed an actual mug!  I had begun the drawing in the early hours of the morning, but had to put it down as each child was waking to get ready for school and to do my part in helping them be ready.  (I have three kids, one in each school level: one in middle school who goes off to the bus stop at 6:20 am; one in elementary school who gets taken to school at 7:45 am; and one in high school who is also taken to school, but at 8:25 am).  Whew!

Now, this is no excuse for having botched the shape of the mug. Rather, the breaks in between the drawing sessions were actually what allowed me to see, early on in the process, that my mug was indeed cattywampus!  Thanks to the chaos of a household, I was hindered from actually carrying on to completion a really badly shaped mug.  And who knows what else would have ended up all sygodlin as well!  I don’t know that I was able to rescue it fully, but I do think the adjustments I made allowed the coffee mug to at least be believable.  Now that all is said and done, I rather like the result, including the areas left undrawn and incomplete.

Alright.  Take this drawing as another example of this hiccup I hit every time I draw.  Sitting at a friend’s house, I was drawn to (tee! hee!) some silver tree looking thingys on her mantel.  I began drawing the left tree, the smallest one after having eyeballed how all three would sit on the page.  I got the first contoured edges and a bit of the cross-hatching in before I realized that my littlest tree was leaning to the right.  You can see the “mistake” lines to the right of the littlest tree.  So I straighten it up and take care not to have leaning trees on all the others by drawing a straight line up the center of each one.  I DO like the presence of redrawn lines, of mistakes corrected, of evidence that a human hand created this.  Love, love, love that!  (Now if I could only exist with the mistakes I make in LIFE as happily as I do in ART, I’d be much better off!)

And this last example…the overall shape of this mug was quite a challenge! It’s one of those thermal insulated, yet all ceramic, mugs from Starbucks in which my friend served me coffee at her house (home of the silver trees).   I “thought” I’d adjusted and corrected the shape of the mug, then went merrily into the cool reflections going on inside the mug, only to find that, once again, I have a LEANING object!  Oh well.  I like enough about the drawing (including the expansive white area!!) that I show it here with a good measure of satisfaction, leaning mug and all!

This processing of my process of pen drawings needs to end now, though there’s more I could gaggle on about.  I share it for these reasons:  1.)  to encourage you  NOT to give up on drawings that seem to be going awry…you can probably rescue them!  2.)  to allow your “mistakes” to show and even to delight in them  3.)  to NEVER allow doubt or less-than-perfectness keep you from seeing something through to the end!  After all, what would have been so bad about a mug that couldn’t hold coffee? or a leaning silver tree?  Salvador Dali’s paintings were FULL of mugs that could never have held coffee, clocks that couldn’t stay on a wall, trees that twisted and leaned every-which-way:)

0 thoughts on “Processing the Process

  1. E J Mordasky says:

    I bought a coffee cup that looks exactly like that one, made by some craftsman in Maine…so to me it looks just right. Your work is really good and my word, where do you find the time!! I’m believing that what we think are mistakes are just part of feeling around for what we want—I’ve luckily been around 75 years and unless I do something over and over again, I have to get the feel of it and have to make all kinds of changes..

  2. Alex Tan says:

    Yeah I do agree in all aspects. A lot of people give up during the initial stages of their sketches and drawings because they don’t think that they’re good enough. It’s never because they aren’t good enough, usually it’s because it’s not done yet =)
    Great advice, and beautiful work Jennifer!

  3. Margaret says:

    Thanks for such an interesting and informative post. I must confess that I did not notice the imperfections until I read the post and looked again at the sketches! They are super sketches.

  4. Elza Metzelaar says:

    I sometimes use an unframed little make-up mirror, that I place in the middle of my drawing so that I can more or less see if the shape of something is off, way off, or reasonably on. I only do it if I want some realism which is not often. I like wobbly things.
    Amazing what you can do with a bic. I need to be able to erase, or I might as well stop drawing.

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