Sometimes we have drawings or paintings we are not particularly proud of, but they have sentimental value. As amateur artists, should we keep everything but our best work away from the public? Will it detract from our “reputation” if we publish the less than perfect work that we created in the past? I used to think that. until I misplaced a drawing I really liked, but found that I did have a photo of it online.
Here’s what I think about it now: when we write a novel, it is good to print up a hard copy, because something might happen to the original electronic file. When we draw or paint something, it is good to make an electronic copy, because something might happen to the physical artwork.
Do we have to publish everything we want to archive? No, not necessarily. But even with my most imperfect paintings and drawings, I don’t feel so ashamed of them that I don’t want to share.
Take these two paintings that I made in art class when I was fourteen, and I was just learning to use acrylics. Clearly they are amateurish in so many ways, but I still like to look at them, and I think there is something to learn even from the obvious mistakes.
If we do not expect everything we produce to be perfect, but there is some joy in the overall effect, why not share it with others. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to look.
This is a photo of a sketch of my children that used to hang in the pens. I don’t
know what happened to it. It just disappeared. I did not even notice it was gone until very recently. But because I had written about it on a site that has since gone defunct, I was able to find the electronic file. I think it is worth preserving, because it is a part of my artistic endeavor, even if it is a deeply flawed attempt. Maybe someday I will try again, using this sketch as a reference point for a brand new painting. I feel better knowing that the sketch will be available to me online, even if the laptop where I found it today and its hard disk are damaged.
Watching how our artwork improves over time is best served by having available for comparison some of our less developed works.