Finishing a piece of art is hard. In highschool I think finishing was the biggest hurdle among artists  my age and every now and then I get e-mails where another artist is having trouble just finishing a piece. It seems to be a particular problem with personal work. I recently finished the piece above.

which started off as this thumbnail.

Shortly after the progress above I found that I wasn't looking forward to working on the piece anymore. This is a personal piece and I wasn't looking forward to working on it anymore? What the hell happened?! Nobody is twisting my arm to do this!  I wasn't upset with the work I just wasn't looking forward to working on it again the following night. So I began to ask myself hard questions about why. The piece felt generic to me.  There's probably a thousand pictures of women with feathers all over them in high fashion magazines, a dozen women dressed like this at every Burning Man, and two hundred illustrations of similar scenes. Why do I bother? The photography stuff is more realistic than my work will ever be and the illustrations probably have better costume designs. After pinpointing the reason for my sudden lack of enthusiasm I was depressed about the prospect of finishing it. Originally I was pursuing the image as an opportunity to do some up close details and make an image showing a rendering of several different materials. Someone had given me good advice that I should try to make pieces that showcase whatever I consider my strengths. I think my strength may be conveying textures. So I was perhaps focusing a bit TOO much on this being an image of a bunch of swatches of textures.

What brought me back around to being excited to work on the piece was remembering what the initial spark was for the sketch. The idea was a woman that birds were attracted to and she was eating them. That gets my brain going again. Ok so she's a trap. I was drawing magpies because they have shimmery colors in their wings but there's also the myth of them liking shiny things. Let's put some shiny stuff on her as bait. The wings on the side of the head kind of look like horns so let's remember that as it it makes her seem more diabolical. This background isn't literal. I wasn't thinking of her literally as a woman who sitting outside eating wild birds. It's a metaphor. This is about being lured. Being lured by shiny things. Shiny things like coins. Money. Is this an illustration about thinking pursuing wealth is a trap or dangerous? Is this about greed?

From there I was excited about the image again. It wasn't about a woman with feathers on her head. It was unbearable to work on an image about a woman with feathers on her head. It was a joy to work on an image of a woman with feathers on her head that was about greed.
Joe SlucherComment