Lately I need to reacquaint myself with not only the artist I used to be, but also with the joy I used to feel, playing with my art supplies.
I look around and find clues in the clutter: dried palettes of gouache and Dr. Martin dyes, and a portrait of Carson McCullers with a blob of ink in her hair that had formed without warning, first frightening, then enchanting me as it spread across the fragile rice paper. This evidence of tactile trespassing would not be lassoed in by a Photoshop tool, in attempts to clean and control.
I still work traditionally, but something has happened in the process that I regret. I now clean up a lot of little messes and mistakes in Photoshop, and it’s made me, quite frankly, lazy. And not proud.
It used to be that I’d get an assignment and make a rough drawing, then take it to the light box where I would trace a faint line onto watercolor paper or heavy Bristol. From that point on, I was performing without a net. The finished art was camera-ready, give or take a little note to the production department to “eliminate cut marks” where a necessary paper revision was glued into place.
With the advent of scanning and e-mailing my own art, the look of the finished product is now totally in my hands, down to the pixel. Cleaning up with the eraser tool, enhancing a color, burnishing a black line all became a part of the process, to the point where I am spending more time in Photoshop than I am at my art table.
Somehow, along the way, my integrity got misplaced in the clutter of assignments started on paper but not worth archiving, because I had turned over the birth process to a cold, mechanical midwife. Now they lie around me in piles, in limbo. My art supplies, used halfheartedly, also languish. I pick them up to sense their weight, and potential.
In that moment I remember all too well who I used to be, and make a promise that it isn’t too late to get back on track to who I can still become.