I had an idea…

10 February, 2019. I had an idea, somewhat imperfectly formed in my mind, an image that I could almost – but not quite grasp. In a moment of nearly pure clarity I could picture each and every necessary and vital step of the process.

The colors and washes went down exactly as I’d imagined, but then the washes began to dry. I questioned myself and left alone that which should have been manipulated further, and worked further into that which should have been left untouched. The marvelous image I pictured disappeared right in front of my eyes and in what remained I could only see, glaringly, folly.

In disgust, both with myself and my sketch, I documented the work and walked away.

And time passes. It’s another day. I still see a ghost of what might have been. I still cringe a little looking at the parts that made me shudder yesterday. I can place my thumb over some places in the sketch and see where I strayed. Mistakes are there, painful tools of learning – but I also see things I like, marks I overlooked yesterday masked by my chagrin at having missed the original target.

I’ll probably always cringe just a little at the amateurish strokes that mar an otherwise acceptable sketch. Such blows soften over time, this I know well.


  1. lepastelbleu · February 10, 2019

    if you want my opinion, I think the error is in looking for details but made in an approximate way. You lose the freshness of the watercolors you showed in recent days; I think that the details can be put if they are very detailed, even only in a very small but precise, otherwise it is better not to put them at all

    • azorch · February 10, 2019

      This is precisely the error that bothers me. The sketch has tried to do too much.

  2. lepastelbleu · February 10, 2019

    why do not you try to do it again? for me it’s easier a little bigger, I’m curious to see how you come the second time

    • azorch · February 10, 2019

      I may do so at another time. Right now I’m overthinking it too much.

  3. Elizabeth Varadan · February 10, 2019

    I am probably revealing the amateur in me, but . . . I really liked it!

    • azorch · February 10, 2019

      Thank you, Elizabeth. We always seem to be our own worst critics.

  4. Lucia · February 11, 2019

    I will join Elizabeth here, I think it’s beautiful.

  5. areilly88 · February 12, 2019

    I know this well. In fact, my most recent blog post explores a version of this struggle. It’s helpful to know I’m not alone, though it appears your training and experience surpasses mine. I’m looking forward to learning more from you and have enjoyed your work!

    • azorch · February 12, 2019

      Play is one of the most important things about art. When I was an illustrator it was far too easy to take myself and my work too seriously. My students sometimes fall prey to that and when it happens I try to find a way to turn art time into play time. My bent nib pens are perfect toys for that purpose!

      • areilly88 · February 12, 2019

        Agreed! As a relative beginner, I aim to balance staying loose/playful with allowing myself to learn and progress. So at this point, I teeter back and forth a bit. The reminder to return to play when the teeth gnashing begins is a good one! Thanks again 🙂

      • Elizabeth Varadan · February 12, 2019

        I probably need to remember that advice and apply it to my writing. I think I’ve become too goal oriented of late.

      • azorch · February 12, 2019

        There’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals. Just don’t allow them to get in the way of your voice.

      • areilly88 · February 13, 2019

        PS: this exchange inspired a new painting/blog post yesterday. I would have credited (tagged?) you in the post if I’d known how. I’m still new to the WordPress platform so there’s a lot I don’t know how to do (or even the etiquette about such things). If, after checking out the post, you’d like to be linked, let me know.

      • azorch · February 13, 2019

        I enjoyed your post and the accompanying illustration. I like to believe that play is a sign of engagement, thus acts of playfulness may be evidence of personal growth. …not to mention, it’s just plain fun. Art may be hard, but it should never be work.

  6. Elizabeth Varadan · February 12, 2019

    Ah. I like that advice!

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