Little preface here on this work. I started like any other work… not knowing what the heck I was doing. I had one vision in mind (I was going to go for simple colors, maybe even just black and white) but as I worked on the piece, more things started to emerge giving me more ideas and ending up more like one of my “glossy” finished works than anything.
So you’ll see below the chart of how some of my progress went. You’ll notice something strange around step 4 — this is where Photoshop decided when I was trying to use the Gaussian Blur filter in the eyes a little that it was going to mess around with layers that weren’t even involved in the blurring process. Sometimes Photoshop gets weird like that, though. It’ll show something in a preview and then when you commit to it, it’s fine. This was not the case. I went backwards in my history to undo what photoshop did, and it only made things worse.
As an artist, you have a brief moment (or longer one, depending) of panic where you think, “well, that’s it, my work is ruined” and you kind of give up for a moment. This has happened to me more times than I can count. Photoshop went crazy on one of my senior studio The Traveler pieces (“Stellar Directions”) that ended up with me resolving it by merging everything and working from there. Photoshop has also corrupted many documents I have saved and I’ve even had to start from square one. This is when you panic and wonder when the hell the last time you saved was, and then you realize it’s been seven hours since you saved and all of that work you did may or may not be lost in the ether.
But you know what? This is not me being unreasonably optimistic — anyone that knows me knows I’m not a crazy sun-is-shining optimist. After I went in and undid everything Photoshop did (for some reason it turned every piece of pixel data that was exactly white to exactly black, so I just had to invert it where it did that, then unmuck the layer masks it also inverted), I left it at this part on step 5 for the night, and I kept thinking about it. I love some glitch art so this was both interesting and not the aesthetic I wanted at all, but it gave me some great ideas about bringing in white fur into the mix.
Not only did it give me some good ideas, it also made me STOP. This is something I’m finding more and more prevalent in my artwork lately. I get much better results when I don’t try to churn out something in just one day. If I sit on it rather than getting the itchy trigger finger to publish it worldwide, I end up seeing a lot more things for improvement and end up with an overall better piece. I’m doing this more now — I will “complete” a piece where I think it’s done, then leave it up on my tablet for a day or more to think about it, look at it, and consider — am I really done?
Most artists will tell you that they can work on their art seemingly forever. You have got to know when to stop, but seeing things with fresh eyes and being able to sleep on it for a while is important too. As a person who usually wants things done and wants them done now, I’m learning to give me works more breathing room.