Four years, one drawing

This drawing had been started in 2010. The upper left eighth was in place and looking most satisfactory, when I gave up all notion of drawing, to concentrate on other, far less creative, far more tedious, endeavours.

I had forgotten this piece existed until, a few weeks ago, I began hatching plans to once again resurface my life-long urge to draw. There, amongst some stored drawings, was this starter piece, together with a selection of reference images and prep sketches. The ideal first project: the idea, layout, and intention were already there.

Completing Streams was anything but straightforward. My pencil technique I have never lost; it is like riding a bike. The original concept was easy to rekindle from the prepared references and sketches. I had to buy new materials, new pencils, erasers, sharpeners—far more fun than a chore.

It was my ability to focus for long drawing sessions that eluded me.

At first, all I could manage was around 20 minutes before my mind wandered to the point that my pencil strokes began to fluctuate. I threw pencils in frustration, and several times came close to simply trashing the piece and beginning something fresh. By the end, I had worked up to three hours for a session—broken with frequent, brief breaks, of course.

Frankly, spending this much time on a single piece is a bore. TV, radio, and audio books help, but it is invariably a struggle retaining my sights on the planned outcome while maintaining focus on every pencil stroke.

There’s a strange perspective in Streams. The original images were snapped from atop a cliff whilst watching the sea wash in and out of a small, inaccessible rocky bay.

It was the impression of continuation that appealed to me: the forms and lines of the rocks reflecting the streams of foam washing back down to the ocean, to be replenished with every fresh wave. There are a variety of textures and tones, but little colour. The immediate, clear challenge was how to create enough texture variation without having to render every tiny detail; that would make it little more than a copy of a photograph.

The result is almost there, but not quite—tainted a little by its history, I suspect, or by the overarching span of its creation. But that is just me, with my rather more intimate connection with the work.

You? You either like it, or you don’t (either is fine). This kind of work is hardly likely to illicit some dramatic emotional response, but if your only reaction is to admire the technique, then I have missed the mark.

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