So I am back working on the starfish, already making some errors and learning some tricks. I have made some progress but that isn’t the reason for this post. I wanted to talk to you about how hard it can sometimes be to work on detailed paintings and the fear that can shut you down as bad as any writers block. This project in particular has significance with respect to the hard shell pieces on the fleshy starfish skin. I have worked on a similar combination of textures and detail once before, only finishing it through sheer stubbornness.
This is my piece “Barnacles and Butterflies” that I did several years ago. This is the only piece I have done in magic marker and for very good reason. This took several years, off and on, to complete because of the difficulty created by the need to individually detail each shell bit on every barnacle, as well as, the incorrect-ability of any errors made during the process. I would work for a while until my doubts and fears ate away at my ability to continue. The further I got the more I would push myself to get it finished, which led to more worries about short cutting the work or pushing so hard that I made an irreparable mistake. With this much detail, the chances of me starting over again where non-existent. To top it off, I was already doubting the painting because the shell parts were really a creamy pearl color that the markers could not produce. However, I loved the idea so much I had to complete it.
All of this was stuck in my head as I contemplated the starfish. However, c’mon, it is just so cool. I think that is part of the reason I took a break. Although doing this image on the computer has taken away most of my fears and doubts, there is still the sheer repetitiveness of recreating all the shell bits. I wanted to share this with you. I know some people look at artist’s work and think how easy it seems for them to accomplish. Heck, I even look at some peoples videos on their process with envy at the ease, but keep this post in mind when next you look at some highly detail artwork. The artist may have sweated blood over each and every decision. In truth, that is why the Nautilus and Sea Urchin works are currently stalled.