I have problems with all of the sketches I’ve posted. (If anyone viewing them can tell me what’s wrong with them, I’ll be eternally grateful. I love advice.) Most of them are unfinished—hence, lots of white space. I post them either because I don’t know what else to do with them at the moment, or because I realize that the sketch has suddenly veered into an ugly direction and if I continue, the ugliness will make me nauseous.
For example, Sketch #11:
is sort of okay, but really, it is absolutely lifeless. There’s no movement to it. I’m the type of person who’s too self conscious to dance or sing, so I let my sketches dance and sing for me. On the dance floor, I am a broken doll, but, honey, when I put that pen or pencil to paper, I know my moves. Well, sort of—I’m still a bit awkward, but I’m always learning new moves, and that’s what counts, right? Anyway, in Sketch #11, she looks bored stiff as she looks at Mr Giant Butterfly. The lady’s body looks limp. Her neck looks stiff. She looks high and haughty. Heck, Mr Giant Butterfly has more expression on his face. After I finished sketching and shading in Mr Giant Butterfly and compared him to Stiff Lady, I thought I was going to lose my lunch right there.
She’s not the type of character I like to reside in my imagination. If she’s not going to be amazed by Giant Butterfly, I want her out of my life.
So what went wrong with her? Well, here’s my theory of what is a sketch versus what is an artwork. A sketch is a copied thing: I either copy it from real life (like my feet) or from a photo (like the mother.child sketch I gave to Lady Teacher). And that’s the problem. It’s copied. The movements and shadings of my drawing instrument are dictated by what I see, not by what I feel. When I sketched Stiff Lady, I had to concentrate on getting her proportions right—on getting her eyes in the right place, her nose the right size, her arms the right length. In short, dear reader, I was not being an artist, I was being an obsessed technical perfectionist. And that’s why she came out so stiff. I was not ready to let her be herself. I was in too much control. On the other hand, a real piece of artwork is this:
Maybe I’m being an idiot show-off right now, but I’m really proud and happy with how Lady Butterfly is turning out. Lady Butterfly is a re-rendering of Stiff Lady, but this time, I let her be herself. I looked at her, listened to her, and she finally whispered to me that she looked stiff because she was jealous of Mr Giant Butterfly—and that she herself wanted to know what it would feel like to be a butterfly. So here she is, transformed—Queen of the Butterflies.
I am really happy at the moment. It has been almost three weeks since I started sketching again, and finally, FINALLY, here is my first real artwork of the summer. I will finish her wings and all the tiny details, and then, the Gods and Muses willing, I will beg my mother for some expensive French watercolor paper and put her in watercolor. I think Lady Butterfly would like that a lot. Of course, it’s going to take forever to finish the watercolor, but in the meantime, I can look forward to posting more Ugly Sketches and posting more snide comments about them. I will now go celebrate Stiff Lady’s transformation by . . . eating a large slice of apple pie.
And, of course, cheers to the memory of love.