Reflection: Time, unfinished work, and the need for change

As mentioned in my previous post, increasingly I’m realising that I need to make changes in the way I work. It seems that my natural mode of drawing is detailed, careful… and slow. When drawing for my own pleasure, that’s not necessarily a problem. However, in trying to work through this course, time management is a necessity. If I continue to work at my current pace, there’s a danger I might run out of time.

Maybe even more importantly, settling into a slow, considered way of drawing could easily become a habit.  A habit I want to avoid. I’m beginning to see that I’m capable of producing reasonable and conscientious drawings, given enough time, and I can definitely see that my skills have improved.  The thing is, careful, methodical drawings aren’t necessarily what I want to make. So many of the drawings that appeal to me most are far looser and (apparently) spontaneous in style. Drawings that involve labouring over each tiny mark can sometimes be impressive, but my response to them tends to be ” Oh, that’s clever”, rather than something more visceral.  I’m realising more and more that evoking a feeling response is the thing that matters most to me.

For  these reasons, I’ve decided to try a different way of working.  For the next few exercises at least, I’m going to set time limits (varying times, depending on what the exercise requires), and stop working when the time runs out, no matter whether or not I feel the drawing is finished.  I contacted my tutor to discuss this, as I was concerned it might result in lots of unfinished drawings, and I didn’t know how this might be received when it comes to assessment. She pointed out that this is a necessary part of my learning – to try different ways of working, and see how they affect my drawing. Also, she suggested I write about my plans here so that the assessors would be able to put any apparently unfinished work in context.

I am curious to see how my style might change when working within such self-imposed constraints.  My hope is that, not only will it help me to pick up speed, but that it might encourage a greater looseness and expressiveness.  I keep hearing on the OCA forum, in students blogs, and in some of the OCA videos, that we shouldn’t be overly concerned  with ‘making pictures’ at this level, and that investigation and openness are what matter.   It feels like a leap of faith to trust this, and to not worry that my work will be viewed negatively as a result.  Nevertheless, increasingly, it feels like a natural turning point, and most of all… essential.

Below, as a reminder to myself, I’m posting some examples of work, all of which absolutely engage me, yet clearly demonstrate that ‘precision’ and a ‘complete’ finish isn’t everything.

By Anita Malfatti

Estudo Para b Boba, 1915-16, by Anita Malfatti