Stuck like a half-chewed gumball on the Sleeper
I was trying to describe this to someone the other day and was having an incredibly hard time articulating what can I can only describe as ‘artist’s block’–similar to writer’s block in that you are unable to produce anything worthwhile (mostly because you simply cannot reach the part of your brain that needs an itching, no matter how deep you poke around), yet completely different in that it’s not a blockage of the idea, but more a blockage of the execution.
Let me back up. I have a portrait/illustration that I started a LONG time ago (a little over two years)—while I think it will forever remain ‘untitled,’ I’ve been referring to it as the ‘sleeper’ (also buried somewhere in my illustration section):
(Note: this is just a portion of a larger illustration, the rest of which I cropped out with Photoshop. At one point, I liked the idea of it being my site background, but I ultimately decided against it for one reason or another.)
Despite the absurd length of time it’s taking me to finish, I really haven’t invested an obscene amount of hours in it. I’ve been working on bits and pieces here and there, when I remember, when I feel inspired, when I’m bored, when I’ve decided to neglect the million other projects I’ve got going on… etc. etc. (I was once asked how long I thought I’d worked on it total, and upon thought, I estimated perhaps a week’s worth of focus, concentrated work.)
Fast forwarding two plus years after the first unplanned pen stroke, I finally have a vision for how to complete this portrait once and for all. The problem is, every time I set out to do so, I lock up and realize that I can’t quite foresee how to execute the affect I want to achieve (at least how I see it in my mind). I’ve tried now 3 or 4 times to wrap it up, but every time I begin adding those final lines, I stop and think, “I’m not sure that’s really what I wanted to do”…as in, I’m not sure that’s really how you do that.
I can really only describe it as an ‘artist’s block’ (yes, I find it humorous to think of, nonetheless call, myself an artist), though that seems to imply a blockage of vision when really it’s an ability to translate the intangible vision in your head to the tangible paper before you.
Does anyone else experience this when they approach the completion of a piece?
I’ve been finding more and more that I tend to work rather quickly when first starting a project (not much planning or thought, as to keep the process and experience as “organic” as possible), but then as the piece takes shape and I’m nearing it’s completion, I become more invested in where it’s heading and my pace slows down almost to a complete stop. There can be gaps of entire months before I take another stab at it, during which time I ponder my next move and, like a game of chess with my own unpredictable hand, envision all the possible outcomes, negative and positive.
I’m really curious if other people, especially those who work with illustration and graphics, often experience this point of slow down, and if so, if they find it’s better to listen to instincts and take the time to think out the final moves, or to just ‘override’ the blockage and see where you end up.