Day 16 #100horsesbyroxanne
This A3 drawing has tested my patience and the struggle has been real. Today has been one of those days where the flow just doesn't seem to have been there. This is why the 100 day project is so challenging because even if you don't feel like drawing or painting you still have to do it. This is useful though because when you get stuck in a rut you have to think of a way to get back out of it and how to positively move forward.
Thinking back to art school again, we did so much expressive drawing to help loosen us up and get us to unlock our own unique creative selves. I remember vividly one exercise whereby our tutor asked us to use our Black Beauty pencils (really broad, soft, jet black pencils which I adored but are no longer available 😔) and to scribble over an entire sheet of A2 cartridge paper on our easels. Then he told us to rub kitchen towel or tissue over the sheet to smudge the pencil. This process of scribbling and then smudging would create a 'ground' for us to work upon. We then applied the pencil with quick gestural lines to map out the life model in front of us. Using an eraser we would pick out the highlights and then work back into the drawing with our pencil to create more of the shadowed areas.
I wanted to try this out today with my graphite stick. I felt like it was all going well until I REALLY started to look at what I was drawing.
Firstly, the overall feel of the drawing didn't sit well on the paper. The horse in the reference photo I was looking at had a beautiful head on him and a powerful neck but because I had drawn it in portrait and had drawn it too big, I couldn't fit the entire head onto the page to capture what I wanted. I figured I should've drawn it in landscape instead. The proportions of the neck weren't sitting right with me either. It felt as though I had tried to squash it all into one space. It was at this point that I got really frustrated and erased over the entire drawing and tried desperately to salvage something from what I'd lost. It just was not working and compared to the last few days I could see that I was beginning to get too fussy and thinky, thinky. I could sense that I was relying too much on the reference photo again, instead of letting go and allowing myself to be more at one with the material I was using. I had been using my dominant hand today. Perhaps this is what was making me tighten up again? 🤔
I was literally ready to throw in the towel and rip this drawing up but instead I kept going. I erased, smudged and even used sandpaper to obliterate what I'd drawn, which actually made some really lovely textures (I do find that if a drawing has been overworked and the paper messed around with a number of times, it does affect the surface of the paper which can start to hinder being able to reproduce some of those lovely effects created in the very beginning). I realised that the way I was applying the pencil was just not working for me today so tried to think of other ways I could get that initial drawing down. Then I remembered the trick of drawing upside down and no, I don't mean drawing on my head 😂
If you turn your reference photo upside down you start to see the subject as a series of shapes rather than what the subject actually is. For instance, if you know you're drawing a horse sometimes your brain will think it knows how to draw it so it will start to make you believe that what you're drawing is absolutely correct when in fact it really isn't. Turning the photo the other way around really helps you to see it in a different way and to observe the truth of what is in front of you rather that what you think you know. This can be a great way of checking that you have things in the correct place. When you finally turn your drawing back around the right way, the results are quite incredible.
So, after I'd erased and smudged out everything from the previous drawing in a mad frenzy, I made sure I turned the paper around to landscape and then drew the horse upside down. This was the result (photo below).
I'm still not 100% happy with today's piece. I don't like the way that the line depicting the top of the head is visible. It makes it feel too cramped. I should've perhaps made it so that it disappears off of the edge of the paper. The drawing is still WAY too big on the paper. It would've saved time if I had have spent a bit more time scaling it properly to fit. However, on a more positive note, I think it's so much more expressive and more accurate than the first one.
Anyone else looking at this may prefer the first drawing but as an artist you know when something isn't right and you know when something works better. Bringing more of the neck into this one really adds that sense of strength to the horse that I was trying to capture in the first one.
One thing that today has reminded me is that it's ok to have 'off' days. I'm not going to get things right all of the time. Even at the age of 36, having drawn since I was a child and having gone through art school and not stopped creating ever since, I'm STILL going to make mistakes but learning from them is what allows me to progress and to become better at what I do. Art is a constant journey of making crap art and making good art, seeing what works and what doesn't work. I'll forever be learning and my work will always be evolving but that's what's so great about being an artist, it never gets boring 😊