I get in these moods where I’ll draw for hours or days, and the work will just pour out of me. Then, out of nowhere, a problem arises. Suddenly my paper is threadbare from erasure, lines grow thick and dark with infinitesimal adjustments–the sky clouds over with pentimenti.
It’s been one of those days.
I tried to follow these basic rules, which tend to get me out of a bind. I offer them up here for you, in case you are also having a bad drawing day.
10 Hints for Troublesome Drawings
- Don’t just focus on what’s going well. Address the whole drawing; address the problems. The wonderful Sandy Chism taught me this.
- You know what draws attention to problem areas? Darker lines, thicker lines, higher contrast. If you’re working in a dark medium where you can’t go back, try not to over-emphasize the problem area by drawing over and over and over it. Make sure every line adds new information.
- If you accidentally make a problem area too dark/thick/noticeable, raise the contrast level in the whole drawing to compensate.
- As a printmaker, I’m always conscious of the ability to layer. Erased so many times the paper is nearly gone? Drawn over and over in ink and the problem is just getting worse? How about a little “art white-out”? Use gesso or white acrylic paint to clear out an area. If you put it in one spot, however, make sure to bring the gesso/paint into other areas of the drawing. Where else will a matte white help the drawing? Spot it in several locations so it doesn’t look like you were just covering up one boo-boo.
- Is the focal point of the drawing where you want it to be? Try bringing emphasis to other areas through contrast, color, density, information, nipples. Yes, “nipples.” And/or other things the human eye is drawn towards.
- If in doubt, try adding more complexity to your composition. Doodads. Thing-a-ma-bobs.
- Jump-jump-jump Jump Around! Don’t just draw in one area until it’s dead.
- Step back from your drawing. Take a photo of it with your camera phone so you can see it small–see the composition as a whole. This will help you realize what’s really important.
- Look at others’ work: peel back art history or check out some contemporary artists whose work you admire. By looking at successful drawings, you may find a solution for your own piece.
- If all else fails, have a snack or punch something. Or scribble on another piece of paper without any goal in mind until you feel better. Call your grandma/mom/cousin/b.f.f. and tell him/her, “hello.” When’s the last time you did that, anyway? Then get back to work.
My drawing may not still be completely done… but it’s getting there… Even since taking these photos, I’ve gone back into it some more.
And, as a contrast, here’s what it looks like when a drawing is “going well” for me, in reference to my last post, Fresh Raw Drawings: