With less than two weeks remaining in our stay here at Obras-Holland, Lorie and I are both looking toward returning home, as well as rolling up our sleeves to spend the remaining days making as much work as possible. For me, part of that work has been producing some drawings for the upcoming “miniature” show at the back room of the Danforth Gallery in Livingston. The show will consist of small works (less than 12 inches at the longest dimension), priced between $50 and $150. I’ll be sending four pieces to the show.
I’m opting to experiment and diversify a bit, though, and not sending any photo work. When Lorie and I made a trip into Arnhem last week, I picked up a pad of, uh, “kunstenaarsbenodigdheden”, some nice sepia ink, and a pen nib & holder. I have to admit that I didn’t even see that it was called a schetsblok of kunstenaarsbenodigdheden until today, but it appears to be a pad of what I would describe as a cream-tone bristol paper.
Thus equipped, I’ve been spending the week making a combination of work: I’ve made a few asemic writing pieces, but some more conventionally illustrative drawings as well. I’ve been enjoying myself, and it’s nice to be working a skill that I haven’t really flexed in a while. I’ve done quite a bit of sketching in ink over the last several years, but this is the first I’ve used a dip pen for that purpose in a long time. It’s a little scary, in a sense, because the nib will sometimes unexpectedly drop a blot of ink on the paper where you might not otherwise want it, rendering what was intended to be a fine line into a bead of ink sitting on the paper. It’s something that can be controlled with practice, but there’s still a bit of fear with each drawing that I’ll be nearly done, and will suddenly blot or spatter ink on the drawing. Unlike pencil drawings, I can’t use an eraser to correct any mistakes, nor can I “paint over them.” And, unlike photography, there’s certainly no post-processing involved… no sense that I need to worry about the color balance, shadow detail, or contrast.
The sense of “completion” with photography, and indeed any digitally-made work, is something I’ve been working on lately. It’s not a digital problem, of course. Creators through time have had a tough time determining when a work was finished. I can’t think of who it was, but I think I’ve heard a story of some sort of artist (in the 20th century, I think) who had to be “protected” from his or her works because he or she kept trying to “fix” them as they were on display on the museum wall. In some ways, it’s the “George Lucas” problem, as George Lucas famously keeps revisiting the first Star Wars movies every few years. I suspect it’s probably a common temperament among creators, whether they are authors, painters, architects, sculptors, photographers, or film-makers.
For my part, I have a tendency to sit on things until they’re “just right”. I’ve written before about my perfectionist leanings, so I won’t re-hash that here, but the nice thing about the drawings is that there is a sense of completion to them. I could try to perfect them, I suppose, adding a bit more ink here, deepening that shadow there, and so forth, but my fear of screwing them during the final pen stroke keeps me from doing so. The sense of deadline helps too– these will be sent to the Danforth tomorrow, so they have to be ready to literally ship!
Which reminds me, I need to get some paperwork filled out to get these all packed up. I had better get on to that. As I mentioned earlier, these works will be on display in the back room of the Danforth Center for the Arts in Livingston, Montana, so if you’re in the area in December, you should stop by and have a look!