Persevering through the Ugly Phase

I got a serious attack of the uglies while drawing a giraffe!

I knew when drawing to be aware of the ugly phase. This is the point in the creation of a piece of art where you think it does not look right. Generally, it is acknowledged that most, if not all drawings go through it. You are busy working away, step back and think this is not right. Usually, this is because you have not quite finished it. It is commonly associated with pieces that require a lot of layers. All it takes to put it right is to persevere with it until you get the desired effect.

In my case, I was busy tackling the nose and area around the mouth wanting to get the texture just right. It was all going so well. I kept at it trying to accurately represent the right tones in colour and the detail of the texture. Then I took a step back and thought, I have overdone this.

Having put all that effort into the piece, I was annoyed and extremely disappointed that I did not stop adding to this section earlier. The piece was filed away for a bit to see if at a later time I would feel any differently towards it.

A week later, I pulled it out and was still disappointed with it but decided to take the advice that is often given which is to seek a second opinion.

At my local art club, I received a lot of supportive comments and the view was that it looked great and they loved the texture of the very area I was concerned about.

Were they just being polite? To check, I also showed it to my partner who does not shy away from stating his true feelings on a subject. He also said it was looking good.

So rather than give up and chuck it away, I decided to persevere … as at the very least it should be a useful learning experience.

giraffe strip

As I continued to work on other areas, the rest of the body began to balance out the mouth area and my enthusiasm for the piece returned.

Now that the piece is finished, I am a lot happier with it, but I still think the area in question is a little overworked. However, I have learnt a lot from the experience.

  • Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly particularly late at night or when tired.
  • Do put it aside for a bit and come back to it with fresh eyes.
  • Don’t just trash it but look critically at it to check composition, the tones and values of the colours used.
  • Seek a second opinion
  • Try and resolve the issue by attempting to finish the piece.
  • Remember what you have learnt.

While it may never be a favourite piece hopefully, the discovery of what went wrong will add to my drawing experience.

Now, will I remember all of this the next time I get an attack of the uglies?

Further reading: