The temptation to fiddle

I just reread that title back, it sounds like some literature that would get handed out the trainee catholic priests in the nineteen fifties. Yesterday I finished a set of four drawings in biro that were inspired by (well pastiches of) etchings by William Hogarth circa 1755. The thing is though, when you do something like this, the original drawings are less than perfect, well they are when I do them anyway. The pencil underdrawing never really goes away and there is a level of smudge that causes problems when scanned. Getting an image from your mind to sketchbook, from sketchbook to page, page to scanner and from computer onto a file to take to the printers , for the printer then to fiddle with again thinking you meant somethings entirely different unless they know you and how you work is a protracted process. 

The thing I completely despise is the time spent using photoshop to clean up the image for print and because of the sheer scale of the drawings I have to first accurately put the image back together, compensating for shadows at the edge of the scanning bed and minor discrepancies in the angle they were put under the scanner. Then, many hours later you can finally make a start. It’s taken me many years to deprogram the rubbish that has been thrown at me and learn how to draw and paint like the best version of me rather than a bad version of someone else. I’ve come to terms with shaky lines and wonky circles, obsessive bits of detail and bored scribbles when my mind is onto something else it wants to be doing now. Photoshop though is a dangerous thing, it can be a basic tool to fix minor issues or a time machine where you can alter the entire course of a drawing, changing it out of all recognition. The urge to fiddle is addictive, particularly for me, what with all those pear shaped eyes and lopsided smiles. You change one, then another, then another and in the end it is just not your artwork, just some dead, generic, thing that could have been done by anyone and what is the point of that?

This can happen with people as well, particularly in relationships. We meet someone, fall for them, and then expect them to stop being who they are because parts of our personality don’t meet their satisfaction . It’s tricky at first as everyone is on their best behaviour and being the best them they can possibly be, or more accurately the best them that we think the person we desire wants us to be.  It doesn’t take long for people to relax into themselves and if we don’t like what we see, we go our separate ways, no harm done. The problems come when we like most of what we see but not all of it, no one is perfect and  we have to accept that if we want to be with someone there are things we just need to deal with. Things go horribly wrong when we try to force someone to change essential parts of their personality. 

This has happened to me in the past and, to my shame, I went along with it for a while. I tried to be more sociable, more outgoing, more engaged with other people and all it did was make me miserable, exhausted and rather pissed off with the world I was pushed into dealing with. I am who I am, I like being around thoughtful, honest, genuine, people who are incredibly talented in their chosen field and everyone else can just bugger off. I met too many, shallow, morally dubious, dishonest, trivial, people with big egos and minuscule talent and it ate away at my soul and drained the life from me. It didn’t take long for me to collapse under the strain and I soon returned to type, then balked at all this garbage I felt under pressure to keep doing it and I just couldn’t. It’s not pleasant to feel under constant pressure, to be backed into corners, manipulated and made to feel like you are an utter failure for no other reason than just being yourself and eventually, like any creatures with all their exits blocked off, things take a turn for the worst.

Hopefully that will never happen again, I think  I have finally learnt to accept myself for who I am and my art for what it is too. Perhaps that means I shall end up permanently single and the creator of strange drawings with limited commercial appeal but whatever happens, at least I will be truly me.


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