Tag Archives: quality

I can’t afford comparison except to a standard

#Letter365 No308 gets posted
No308 goes in the post box

I don’t know why I let my brain start comparing pieces qualitatively against each other! Right at the outset I decided that my criteria for inclusion would be that I had to be happy to have the piece on my wall: I would not allow myself to put anything in an envelope in this project which I did not sincerely believe to be of quality. Now it may turn out when they are opened – if they are opened – I may feel differently about them but at the time of sealing them up I need to be happy they pass muster. So there is a qualitative assessment done every day, but whilst I may have been particularly pleased with a piece and even suggested it might be one of the best yet, I never wanted to rank or compare them. So why today do I suddenly, after 10 months, start wondering if today’s is better than yesterday’s? This way madness lies, though with another Beefheart quote on the envelope I’m probably part way there!

Now there’s a thing

#Letter365 No187 goes in the box
No187 goes in the box

It quite often happens that I lose confidence on the piece I am doing or am happy enough but fear to take the next step in case bugger it up. Fortunately I mostly tell my self to stick to the plan or go with the flow as appropriate. Today was a stick-to-the-plan day. A few times I had to remind myself that the picture I had in my head would work just great and that I just had to keep on to the end. Of course it was fine, in fact I am more pleased with it that I expected, but I am interested in examining that process where doubt sticks a finger in! It appears as something negative, but it is probably based in a cautionary principle (“mind you don’t waste those materials” or “if it doesn’t work you will have wasted all that time”) coupled with a quality-control vector. If I can link more with that aesthetic quality control when those feelings arise it may be a very useful exercise.

I said above “the picture I had in my head” and yet I am not able to visualise as I understand some people can. I do not and really cannot see a picture in my head as if i were looking at something with my eyes. It is more a feeling that I get. I can feel my way round things and describe them but I don’t see anything. I never have done even though from all the tests I seem to be a visually-biased person. I have never been able to do those creative visualisation or NLP exercises because when I close my eyes I see black or after images mostly. There is a sort of visual process that goes with remembering and imagining but it’s not like a scene which I can view and move through; it’s more like a 3-dimensional diagrammatic feeling!

Back of #Letter365 No187
Back of No187

Half way through the project

#Letter365 No183 goes in the box
No183 – I have reached half way

It’s perhaps that I am still upset by our cat being unwell that it took me three goes to get a piece good enough. I think that I may have been over critical of one but the other was crap! Well perhaps that is not fair. The piece didn’t work as a finished artwork and I would not have been happy seeing it on my wall or anyone else’s, but It was useful to have tried it and understood why it didn’t work.

The piece I did complete for the project started a bit tentatively – not surprising after two false starts – but turned out well in the end.

Now I have reached the halfway point I need to crack on with all the things that will make the whole project come together: things like this blog’s design and additional content and being able to buy on-line and sponsorship perhaps.

Back of #Letter365 No183
Back of No183

No167 the first of a Ramsgate series

No167 goes in the box

I was right to be concerned about the IT side of this while away, only I never expected it would be that my WordPress app wouldn’t let me upload a photo! I’ll try again later.

I perhaps should have been more concerned about all the other stress factors that could affect and, indeed, have affected my ability to create something I was happy with! I jettisoned 3 pieces before managing something that passed the test.

After spending 20 minutes failing to be able to work with the image I have given up. Last time I used this ago it was a little clunky but worked fine, but this update has made it impossible to use on my HTC one M8. I’ll try my tablet tomorrow. Sorry if it’s a bit broken.

So busy I found it hard to remember

#Letter365 No154 gets posted in bright sunshine
No154 gets posted in the pueblos blancos of St Andrew’s Road

When I saw the photo above I did think of the pueblos blancos of Spain, that harsh light on whitewashed walls, but really there are no Spanish houses in St Andrew’s Road. Bridport and the sun, though warm, was not as harsh as southern Spain. It is just one of those post boxes set into the side of a whitewashed Dorset house.

I have been busy again today with planning and preparations for the show in Ramsgate, plus the added excitement of selling an ink drawing to someone in the United States this evening. So when I came to write this post I found it hard to remember what I had done for #Letter365 only 9 or 10 hours ago! Part of the reason might also be the process of creation. I went to the studio wanting to do some work on a piece in progress as well as my #Letter365. When I got there, in quite a fired-up state, I found that I had left two sketchbooks open as reminders of things I wanted to develop. One of these was the long drawing I had been planning to do in a Moleskine concertina book. Making the first mark on a pretty expensive piece of paper or book is at times a pretty scary act and I had been sort of putting it off. Today I was up for it. I was full to overflowing with what I wanted to make: it was time. But there was just a little time for one last act of procrastination, my excuse being that I had to do #Letter365. And there laying on the table was the other open sketchbook with an idea that I wanted to develop – and remember that I was all fired up – so what could be easier than using that. I set to work and soon had created something I was pretty pleased with! Now I could get on with the drawing in the Moleskine. That went really well, actually even better than I had hoped. Once dry and I could interact with it I fell in love with it. So did someone else: it was the piece I sold to the woman in America.

Align One Ink drawing by David Smith on Moleskine concertina book
Align One
Ink drawing on Moleskine concertina book

So then I went back to the piece I had so boldly and confidently produced for #Letter365. I realised it was missing something; it didn’t quite work. I played around with different things for quite a while before realising that what was missing was me. I had skilfully found a way to get #Letter365 out of the way so I could get on with a piece that was really important to me, a piece I was full of. I wasn’t full of the piece I had made for #Letter365 and it wasn’t full of me. It was OK and had some interesting aspects but frankly it just wasn’t good enough! It didn’t pass the “would I have it on my wall and love it” test. Bit of a lesson there then! That meant I had to start again. Well I made a new piece, but I distilled some of the good aspects of the previous idea and sat with it until I could resolve it with honesty and integrity. In the light of what went before I am a little diffident about making any qualitative statement about just how good this latter piece is but I would be happy to have it on my wall and it pleases my eye.

Back of #Letter365 No154
Back of No154


Does having more time make me more critical?

#Letter365 No16 gets posted
No16 gets posted in the gloaming

The post from the village post box goes at noon on Saturday and there is no collection on Sunday. So at the weekend I feel I have more time. While the deal I have made with myself is that I will hand it over for delivery by midnight each day, where possible I am trying to get it in the post . At the weekend it’s all a bit more flexible and I’m not under the self-imposed pressure to do the piece early in the day.

So today I wasn’t happy with the first piece I created – well at least not for this project. I suppose I am ultra-critical and feel I must make sure I am delivering pieces of value as people will be buying blind. The first piece is fine I guess and it may get offered for sale (obviously I cannot use it as a #Letter365 piece as it does not meet the criteria of being substantially made on the day).

I just wonder, had I not had the luxury of the extra time would I have let it go?