Friday 4 October 2013

when it's right, it's right

Teaching time is here again as I said.  One of the toughest things I've ever had to try and get my head around is the notion of what constitutes a finished artwork.  Is there a certain amount of time you have to spend on a picture before it is finished?  Do you have to do it a certain number of times over? Does it have to be made in one seamless, mistake free go? 
As the post title suggests, I have found only one thing that is common to all finished artwork - when it is right, it is right.  That is to say, when it does the job you want it to do, it is the finished artwork.  It is a more difficult concept grasp than you might imagine!  The problem is that sometimes it is insanely difficult to get a picture to do its job and other times it is infuriatingly easy.  I find both equally tough to accept.  When a picture is finished too fast I don't feel it has earned the right to be called an artwork, even if it does everything I want it to.  When it takes too long I want to give up and settle for something that doesn't work just because I feel I have already put in more than enough effort.  Perversely, it is actually the former of those two problems that most people seem to struggle the hardest with.  I think, in our secret souls we all know when we are giving up on a picture just because it is taking too long to get right.  It seems much trickier to allow oneself to accept that you just drew half a book in an afternoon. 

Here is a case in point.  The most successful book that I have illustrated thus far is Beegu.  On this one sketchbook page is the linework for the entire opening sequence of the book... three double spreads!  It can't have taken more than three hours!  Here is the rabbit picture, the tree picture, the chasing leaves picture and the looking out at the city picture, all exactly as they appear in the finished book.  I just photocopied them, enlarged them, whited out the bits that overlapped and added colour.

I've scanned it with a 10p coin for scale - about the same size as a quarter ^-^

Now why can't I do that every day! Arrrgh!


  1. Why indeed! I completely relate. (That page must be worth a bit... he he.)

    1. doesn't look like much in the flesh. For one thing, it's just so tiny!