“Learning From BooBoos ” or “Yes, My Crap Stinks!” August 30, 2010 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns – Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Wow, it’s been a few weeks since I last posted–blame it on PTSDSD (Post-Traumatic San Diego Stress Disorder). Or procrastination.

Anyway, I was going thru some of my previous work to send to a kind fellow promoting a charity called WeAreCHAMPS (WeAreChamps.org). Going thru your work often gives you a nice perspective, as well as conflicting emotions. One one side you beam with pride over the stuff you’re proud of, helping to provide a little confidence boost and ego back-pat. On the other side, you cringe at the stuff that you once thought was good but now realize is much less-than.

Many artists, especially “fine” ones, give the impression that their poop don’t stink, if I can use a grammatically incorrect euphemism. Others are hopelessly neurotic and think EVERYTHING they do stinks. (These are actually the folks you want to hang with because they tend to be much funnier than the “non-stinkers” who take themselves and their crap waaaaaaaaay too seriously.)

I think we should admit our errors because that’s the best, if not only, way we learn. Who draws something wonderful and learns from it? “Oh, that came out great! Next time I draw something I’ll do it just like that.” Oops. That itself is a mistake because he/she will just repeat him/herself.

However, the artist that says, “Good Lord! What the hell was I eating, drinking or smoking that made me think THAT chunk of excrement was any good in the first place?” will actually learn something. He’ll know what NOT to do, and the mere fact he notices a mistake means he’s already made some progress if he now sees errors where he didn’t earlier.

Case in point: My Supergirl pencil pinup sketch from a few years ago.

This was the beginning, in one of my sketchbooks:

Okay, I gotta admit I dug it. I liked the face and eyes, especially…So much that I tore it out of the book to make into a “sellable” pinup piece. However, I knew it needed “more” to finish. Something to get it to where someone would want to display it in their Itoya, bathroom, laundry room or whatever. Rather than take a chance inking it (a hassle, and not a good idea since it’s on really toothy [rough] sketch paper), I figured, “COLOR”! But limited color–that would be cool. I’ve for years been a huge fan of just using one or two colors in small areas to punch up a pencil piece. (One of my all-time favorite artists, Giovanna Casotto, has been doing this forever. I didn’t consciously learn the technique from her but probably absorbed it from viewing her work over the years. She’s the greatest living pinup artist–as well as the most gorgeous–so I have no problem giving her credit whether it’s needed or not!)

I then did this with just red and a bit of blue:

Okay, better, I thought! For awhile I left it as such and deemed it finished. But…the longer a piece sits, the more time I have to change my windmill-like mind. So when I was getting ready to put some art on eBay, I trotted it out and thought it needed still “more”. Full color would really make it POP, right? But since I’d already used pencil, I didn’t want to use markers, especially since the paper acts like a sponge–with all that area (11″ x 14″), I’d probably eat up three markers coloring it, which would eat into any profits made from selling it! Watercolor and acrylics were out due to its not being on board. So I went with colored pencil. The result:


And you know what? I blew it.

Like Larry David in CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, I went too far and made it offensive. I still prefer the red-only version, or maybe the b/w one but just with more rendering. Sure, I can add more color rendering, which may save it…or just make it even worse.

Bad thing is, it’s on paper, so I can’t hit the ol’ “undo” key like I do in Photoshop. Thankfully I scanned each stage so I can at least still use the one(s) I like, either for presentation or as underlays to rework it digitally later.

And to show all of you that not only does my crap stink, it can stink real bad.

And that’s how artists–and dogs–really learn.


Take care,

Mike







P.S.: Now that I’ve paraded my vulnerability in public, it’s time to feel sorry for me and order a commission. I so need your love. And since I just showed you I learned a lot, you know it’ll be good! Heck, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay. I’ll just make another column out of it.

Just ask Craig here. My ego thanks you!


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