“Suppose one can keep the quality of a sketch in a finished and composed work? That is my endeavour.”
–Virginia Woolf’s diary, 7 September 1924
I’m going to keep this short, because I spent five hours drawing today and my right hand would be waving a white flag if it had any energy left for waving.
As you may remember, I was planning something involving animals for my Drawgasmic piece. But I changed my mind after talking to Jinny, who suggested I do something closer to my dancing sketch. I got a lot of happy responses to that sketch on Facebook, so I thought Jinny had a good point. So I came up with an idea, and then spent a couple of hours doing practice sketches of female dancers and yogis.
I then sketched out a preliminary composition on lightweight watercolor paper. This was just going to be a test, but it turned out so well, I wanted to use it for the final.
But the pens and ink I intended to use bled horribly on the thin paper, so to my great chagrin, I had to transfer all those beautiful sketches to the heavier paper. I considered all kinds of time-consuming tactics until I remembered that I have tracing paper. I traced the outlines of the sketches, then taped that paper to the window and used the window as a lightbox (aha! a use for giant west-facing windows!). After that it was just a very painful round of black ink and a nib pen, markers, calligraphy inks and various brushes, and my favorite Japanese pens. I can feel all the little connective tissues in my hand groaning with the remembrance of this process.
I think it looks pretty nice, and I’m happy as always with my colors and prints, but… it’s not what I wanted to make. If you compare this drawing to the sketches, the sketches have a lot more life and movement, even if they’re very rough. In contrast to the sketches, these figures are flat and frozen. Alas. It’s so bitterly disappointing to find that my hands can’t create what my mind envisions. It’s hard to appreciate what I’ve actually made when all I can see is the gap between what is and what I intended. However. Time and experience will bring those two closer together, I hope!
I still need to do something with the background, but the figures themselves are done. I’ve got the drawing propped up on my desk as I type this, and even though I’m frustrated with how it came out, there is still something very pleasing and appealing about these girls doing their dances. 🙂