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blog of the day 29.04.2004

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Wednesday 13 January 2010
I'm going to present the case for me not being an Artist. I don't mean an artist who is involved in the arts and follows their creative endeavours to produce a work - I am that. In Tom Stoppard's Travesties (my favourite play), Henry Carr says "What is an artist? For every thousand people there's nine hundred doing the work, ninety doing well, nine doing good, and one lucky bastard who's the artist". Quite often I do feel like that lucky bastard.
No, I'm talking about Artists - those who pursue Art with painting and drawing and who love to do so. I'm coming to terms with the fact that I don't think I really love it. I'm not putting myself down - I can draw quite well, but I feel it's out of necessity rather than the all-consuming passion you're supposed to have.

For a while now I've felt slightly inadequate among the artist bloggers community, guilty even, that I'm not providing daily sketches, little odd one-off strips and funny drawings. These are the things, after all, that that can really build your readership - cute or funny work that gets linked to and loved (by me, for one). I've tried to, every now and then, and almost always failed. In a similar vein, I am not in the habit of keeping a sketchbook and putting my life and all I observe into it. I look at my fellow pensmiths with benign jealousy at their glorious jottings full of characters and observations. "Keep a sketch book with you at all times!" the text books say. But it's just not me. I wish it was, because if I was that committed I'd be a far better draughtsman - and I'd like to be that.

Pages from my sketchbook - I take ages to fill them up, and when I have to sketch my figures are impatiently rendered and minimally functional, but quite lively.

It seems terrible to admit it, but I love not drawing. Drawing is terribly hard work. I only draw when I absolutely have to, and I only have the patience to draw exactly what I need to do to complete my own work. This is key, I think. I've never been a very good collaborator and have seldom indulged in making comics with others. Indeed it was the realisation that I didn't enjoy the commercial aspect of drawing comics (from someone else's script) that led me to create The Rainbow Orchid - if I was going to be drawing a comic strip (all that hard work!) then I'd want it to be stuffed full of all the things I loved - it would be tailored just for me.

I think I used to love drawing as a kid, but then we all do. I guess I carried on because I didn't want to lose that escapism - and though I didn't necessarily have talent, I probably did have some ability in the discipline (or maybe I had some talent, but not the ability - I'm never sure which way round it is). My school reports, where art was concerned, were generally lukewarm. I liked drawing, but could never get to grips with painting or any of the more arty disciplines (sculpture, ceramics, etc.). I wasn't interested. In my final exams, taking art at O-Level, I got a distinctly average 'C', and when I eventually applied to a couple of art colleges, I got refused at both. As it happened I lucked into a place at the second one after someone else dropped out - just because I happened to be there on the day as I was signing up for a part-time graphics course. I didn't last long though - I dropped out myself after six months of patchy attendance, not enjoying the arty stuff as I thought I should.

I'm very aware of my limitations as an artist, not only in ability (or talent, or whatever) but also as far as passion goes. Passion! That's what you're supposed to have, isn't it? I've known this for a while, but hadn't wanted to admit it publicly - what would my artist colleagues say! But actually, coming to terms with this has helped me to understand the kind of artist that I am, rather than the kind I am not.

This is not a negative or angsty post - not at all. I know I'm not a great original artist, but I do, after all, have a talent. It's where my drawing skills and my story-telling skills and my comic-making skills meet, and it's unique to me. I'm master of none of these disciplines separately, but I'm quite good in all of them, and they come together to produce something I'm very proud of, and that I do have a passion for. Enough passion that I will sit and do the hard work of drawing. Enough, even, that I'll get lost in that drawing and forget that I don't enjoy it, and find myself actually enjoying it.

Lucky bastard!

posted 13.01.10 at 12:50 am in Comics | permalink |


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Julius Chancer, The Rainbow Orchid, story, artwork, characters and website © 1997 and 2016 Garen Ewing & inkytales