Saturday, July 4, 2009

On the between time of creation

My Muses are fickle, God love them, but I manage. I've gone years between spates of creativity. As a writer and illustrator, I have rarely done both at the same time. I've written some epic poems and illustrated them after the fact, but only once have I drawn and written at the same time for the same project.

Sadly, I seem to have lost my patience for that.

I've always been an immediate gratification kind of guy. That's why almost all of my endeavors have been in black and white, either as a writer or as a pen-and-ink illustrator. During the 1990s, I was a very prolific illustrator, often knocking out one or two new drawings a night, from pencil sketch to final inking.

But something funny started happening as time went on. My visions became more sophisticated. My drawings took longer to complete. My skill in execution improved and became more complex too. Instead of completing a drawing or two in a night, they now took days.

I lost patience for the process of creation and switched media to writing. Like I said, though, the Muses are fickle. There was a gap of a couple of years where nothing came out of my hands. No pictures. No stories. Then the Muses returned and I wrote a novel. Then there was another gap of years.

I talked the other day about what's between the times when we think our life happens, the time we expend to get to the park before we can throw the Frisbee, for example. Well, there's creative between time too: the time between the spark of vision and the completed work. I found that I could get lost in the process of creation if the work was finalized in what I viewed as the time allotted. When the time allotted became longer than my patience for the project, I no longer had any interest in executing my visions in pen-and-ink.

Curiously, this was about the same time that I got my first computer in 1998.

The illustration that accompanies this writing was done via a Wacom tablet in Adobe Photoshop, then manipulated in Illustrator. It took a shockingly brief amount of time, so advanced are the tools of artists these days.

I espoused between time the other day, saying that a lot of good can come out of just slowing down to recognize the roses as you drive on by -- not to mention stopping next to a blossom and inhaling sharply. But now I think I've made the other point, that the process of creation is cumbersome and that, speaking for myself, artists are impatient. Do you suppose that it was for this reason that Henry Ford invented the assembly line? Or was is just to meet consumer demand?

I'd like to recapture that between time in drawing. But at the same time, I created my "Stop & Smell" illustration and wrote this ponderous message in less time than I could have done with a pen on paper.

Have I lost or won?

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