A trance-drawing improv by Wayan, 1995/12/23-24
In late 1995, the Web wasn't much. For artists, paper was still where it's at: zines were the cutting edge. I admired their spontaneity; I felt ashamed of my relatively controlled art. Wing It was my attempt to break free.
It was done in a fever, a trance state akin to the automatic writing practiced by Yeats and others in the 1920s. The first page explains the set-up: I kept my mind resolutely empty and just let things pour out. No plans, no ideas, no models, not even dream images. Pure improv!
What emerged shocked me--both its content, and its coherence. Wing It turned out to be a serious exploration of the creative flow--and the fears that can block it.
Wing It was finished in early 1996 (I did Page 1, explaining the set-up, last.). A few years later I scanned it, but left it sitting on my hard drive, unsure what to do with it. In 2002 or 2003, I upped the contrast in Photoshop and cleaned up the lettering, making it much more readable/viewable, but I still just left it around--I was so focused on dream art at the time, it was as if other states of mind didn't matter! But I kept coming back and looking at it. Around 2005, I shifted it from stark pencil grayscale to a warmer sepia tone. In 2008, on impulse, I tinted it, adding color and some shading here and there.
Despite these tweak-strata, Wing It is still quite close to its original look and intent: pure improv. The ways I compromised that later, in the name of readability, were just as compulsive for me (and thus as revealing) as the original urge for spontaneity. Normally I work over a piece a dozen times or more--sketches, roughs, increase contrast, reletter, clean up, re-compose, re-clean, add shadows and highlights, add rough color, rebalance, add color detail, tweak words and expressions... on and on. So three or four editorial passes is quite restrained--for me.
Such multiple revisions are often said to be a bad idea for both artists and their art. Exhaust yourself, and polish the life out of the work! But I noticed that each pass really did look better. Wing It taught me it's okay to go wild in that initial stage, but that I really do work best in many passes--that's my natural flow. I guess it may sound paralyzingly slow, but really it's not--I can work on many projects at once, in different stages.
Today I disagree with Michelangelo; if Antonio asked ME, I'd have to say: "Just get it looking right, any way that works for you."
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