Monday, February 9, 2009

stuck and unstuck

I have been working on some new art, as well as experimenting with different techniques. I don't love the almost finished product. I feel like I am at a stuck spot. In the past when I worked in Caran d'ache I would often get my pieces to a point where they looked terrible. Then I would keep pushing to the other side until they came to life. It was sort of like resuscitating a hapless victim. The piece would be laying there, sad and lifeless, then with stroke after stroke of color, it would start to lift from the page alive. I find that the digital pieces I am working on right now need some of that love. But how do I decide if it is the technique I don't like, or that the pieces just need more love?  Do I keep pushing until I either kill them altogether or do I see if they start to breathe? With all these years of painting and drawing, stuck and unstuck , this is what I have learned on how I move on when my illustrations seem stagnant:

1) Turn the piece upside down. For some wacky reason the change allows me to see the flaws more clearly, and the successes. Ok, so I will rotate my canvas.
2) Exercise. I choose to run, but whatever get's your heart pumping, and endorphins coursing should do the trick. I find that it really helps my mind get clear and I feel less bound by my normal constraints.
3) Step away from that illustration and start something else. Just taking a break and coming back to whatever I am stuck on often helps me return fresh.
4) Go crazy on it. Add colors I don't love, do some wacky line treatments, really shake it up. Now if I am working traditionally, this is a real commitment, but working digitally this isn't scary if you save the new piece as a new named file. 
5) Drink a glass of wine. Ok this works if I am working in the evening, and as long as you like wine. But sometimes just loosening up a bit is all it takes to let go of the vice like grip on stodginess. 

I think I will start with number 4 today. I am feeling brave and in my heart I think I just need to shake things up. If that doesn't work, I will run with a glass of wine.

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