Don’t Wait, Do.

Flimjabs 1 through 5

Waiting around for inspiration to strike sucks. And if you think you’ve got some sort of sudden, brain-splitting inspiration, it usually ends up with something overblown or superficially insipid. A scientist friend once described how he wanted to paint a seagull flying over waves. His inspiration was, I suppose, a desire to portray the “freedom of the wind.” My unsaid response, “Spare me.” Fortunately, he never did anything about it. If he had, he probably would have attempted one drawing and been done with it. Visions in the mind never turn out the way they are supposed to when committed to paper or canvas unless you really know what you are doing. And knowing what you are doing usually means doing a series of works around a central theme until you’ve explored that theme thoroughly or it gets boring. The six 24 x 18 inch pastels above are a case in point. It’s a theme that I have been playing with on and off for years. The series is called “Mechanicals” and it comes from an experience I had in high school (a very long time ago) when I took a drafting class and the instructor took a strong dislike to me (probably – no, certainly – because I was a total wise-ass in his class). I took his course because it was the only course offered at my otherwise very highly regarded high school that had anything to do with drawing. Sadly, I found the coursework immensely boring; we had to render obscure pieces of mechanical equipment with names like “articulated side flange” in pencil and ink and in 2-D and 3-D with as much precision as possible. After I explained what I thought of it all, said instructor booted me out of class but kept me registered so that I might get an “F” for my impertinence. Then, as the semester was about to end, he sought me out for what he thought would be my well-deserved humiliation and invited me back to take the final exam which counted for half the course’s credit. He was especially pleased when I showed up for that final with a set of 4B pencils, instead of his recommended 4F pencils. The drawings we handed in were identified only by code so he could grade them objectively. He gave my work an “A+.” He was pretty mad about that but gracious enough to give me an “A” for the course. I have been drawing those pieces of mechanical equipment in my own fashion ever since. It’s an ongoing series so I never have to wait for inspiration. If you are doing fine art, I strongly recommend finding a central theme that somehow intrigues you and playing with it in a series over and over again.

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