I sat down at my desk today with the image of a ladder in my head, and this is what happened on my paper:
“Climb,” 5 x 7 inches, pen and ink, marker (available in my shop)
It was fun to draw, but definitely one of those drawings where I had to keep revising what I though I was going to do. There was a lot of sitting back and trying to figure out what was missing. That is largely how I do a lot of these pattern-based drawings—sometimes I just start with one line or shape and don’t even have an overall image or idea to start from.
This type of creating keeps me open and sharp. Sometimes, if I sit down with too much of an idea, I am closed to other options that would make the drawing more interesting.
I find this to be true about making most anything (except perhaps the art of baking which doesn’t always benefit from improvisation). Writing, drawing, painting, cooking all benefit from a little in-the-moment improvisation and the basic goals of learning, exploration and fun. In general my hardest days as an artist (and probably as a person) are the ones in which I am so obsessed with perfection, or being “good,” that I won’t let myself relax and make mistakes.
I think it is safe to say that every drawing I’ve ever done and liked has had a “mistake” in it (a slip of the pen, a bleeding marker) which pushed the work in a new direction and took it someplace I never could have gotten without that happy accident.
And so, this is the creative process—always changing and moving. Always a process. I think the stairs or ladder are somewhat of a distant metaphor for my life right now—every day I’m taking some new step on this staircase to somewhere I can’t quite picture right now, but it’s there. Maybe it’s also a metaphor for the creative process—each artwork is just a piece of the staircase, as is each line and shape in that artwork.