The other day I was talking to an artist friend about what we do when a piece just doesn't work as we'd planned. Sometimes the deviation from our vision is a wonderful surprise, but here I'm going to talk about those times when the surprise is less than wonderful.
If you've been following this blog, you'll have seen a couple of progress reports on the first of my new Pattern collection for my upcoming exhibition. You'll know how excited I have been to let go of 'what I should be doing' and allow myself to diddle about with felt tip pens doing entirely abstract patterns on tiny canvasses.
Prototype Stage One
I very much enjoyed creating this pattern, and in that sense it has been a success. But, as warned by some of you, the colours have already faded. You can see the beginnings of it here, particularly in the pinks. At this stage 'Pattern One' (of twenty, gulp!) was retitled 'Prototype'. Obviously a fading piece would not be good enough to exhibit or sell.
Prototype Stage Two
At this stage it may have been prudent to stop work, but I know from experience that the trickinesses experienced at the beginning of a piece are often different to those encountered at the end, so I continued in the spirit of experimentation.
I relearned some of what I used to know about felt tips: how individual pens need different pressures and angles to get the same result; how the colours can bleed and mix; how the texture of the surface influences the final appearance. And a lot of that I can make use of when I begin the real Pattern One with my lovely Faber Castell Artist Brush Pens which will NOT fade :o).
Prototype Stage Three
By Stage Three you can clearly see the fading. Compare the blues. And the red (below) has disappeared! But also I could see how much I liked the idea; I was buzzing with multiple variation possibilities as I coloured and that alone makes this exercise worth the time and squinting.
So, did I create art good enough to exhibit? No.
Was it what I wanted? Not entirely, no.
Has it been a necessary stage in creating fabulous, quality works I can sell? Very possibly.
A final thought: After I'd finished this and lined up all my progress shots, I started wondering about the lovely shapes more obvious in the incomplete canvasses. So, not only has the process taught me a lot about how to create the finished piece I want; I also realise I need to reassess when each piece is finished and that photographing my work is a useful way of getting that perspective.
Do you make prototypes of new forms?
And how is it when you're less than thrilled with your work?