Sunday, 28 March 2010

on destroying drawings

I cannot bear to keep drawings that are unsuccessful; they remain a constant source of disgust and embarrassment. Earlier in the year, in February, I wrote that I had made four drawings of rows of tiny, black , leafless trees, and that it was all I could do to refrain from cutting them up. Yesterday I retrieved them from the bottom of the boxes where I store my drawings, and looked at them. I was able to recognise them for drawings that I would not feel comfortable to show anyone, much less exhibit, and so I cut them up, salvalging as much unmarked paper as possible. They were poor drawings, in terms of both concept and execution. It is a source of great relief to me to have destroyed them, almost as though they have never been. Sometimes, as I have written, I err, and destroy a drawing for which I have regard, but as my confidence in my own worth as an artist is so precarious, I often find it difficult to distinguish a drawing of any merit from those which I know are unsuccessful.
To destroy an unsuccessful drawing is cleansing, and a kind of release from failure, almost as if the possibility to make better works had been restored with the disappearence of inferior pieces. To destroy a drawing about which one is unsure, to cut a swathe through ones' work, quite literally, without pause, but with an unrelenting sense of purpose, is, however, damaging. Afterwards one's confidence is shaken, and there is hurt from which it takes some time to recover. It is a compulsion, taking hold when one's sense of eqilibrium is disturbed and an unremitting urge to destroy prevails.

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