Inspiration! Manic designing! Manic painting! It works! . . . Boredom or Fatigue . . . Abandon art.
“Art is never finished, it is merely abandoned.” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci
Does this process sound familiar? Those are the stages I go through with every piece I create. I get super excited and nearly obsessive and manic about designing something new. I LOVE the creative process of thinking, imagining, and trying something new. I do not love putting in the tedious hours required to actually finish something new. It seems that once I prove to myself that I can in fact do what I imagined, then I no longer feel the need to do it any more. Like “Yup, that’ll work. What else can I do?”
I am ashamed to admit how many pieces of abandoned art I have. Why? For me, I think it is about discipline, or more precisely, my lack of discipline. As soon as my artwork feels tedious and like a chore, I stop working on it. I know exactly how to finish it, and can already see it finished when I close my eyes, and so I lose all interest in actually doing the work part of it.
Here’s an example of a colored pencil drawing I started and abandoned. After scrunching my eyes, hitting my head, and doing some painful recollection, I estimate that I started this piece over 3 years ago. Wow, that is a lot of procrastination, even for me. I know exactly what to do next, and I’m very happy with the part I have started. I love how the layers are building and the wings are retaining the glowing, nearly translucent effect of real wings. Yet I have no desire to complete the rest of the work. None. How do I find the joy in the completion, not just the creation? I’ve struggled with this in myself for many years. I’m not sure how to dig deep and battle the boredom to complete something just for me. The possibility of hanging it in a gallery or someone buying it some day is too vague and not strong enough to motivate me. Or at least it never used to be. This is new year with all new rules.
Read another author’s article about freedom vs self-discipline here.
Sometimes I abandon artwork because I am not happy with how it is turning out, and I think that is fairly common. I also think many artists struggle with knowing when enough is enough, and when to stop adding details and fussing. I saw a great tip about that but lost the article link. This artist shared that she periodically places a frame around her art and steps back to evaluate. Sometimes it is done, and ready for that frame, way before we thought it might be. Another way to remove yourself from the moment is to take a photograph. I am often extremely pleased to see my work in a photograph vs directly in front of my face. Not sure if it is the distance, the perspective, or possibly that you can see the whole picture rather than the details this way that is helpful to pronouncing the coveted “It’s finished!”.
Maybe this public shaming on my blog will also help? Do I hear my colored pencils, though coughing through their dust, calling out to me?