If you are faithful in your art practice, it is likely you will produce lots of drawings and/or paintings. When completed in a limited time frame, it is probable many will be sketches or first drafts of ideas you could develop more fully in the future.
Sketches and rough drafts can be spontaneous, fresh, and uncensored. Inevitably a first draft can also be raw, awkward, and undisciplined. While there is always a chance that something with no room for improvement (a gift) might have occurred with little effort or awareness on your behalf – most of the time this is not the case. What is typically unearthed in the rough draft is “a possibility” – a raw gem that has not yet been polished.
At this point, it is easy to become paralyzed. The potential has expressed itself and rather than lose it, you might to turn away. We all have faced this intimidating moment. Many of us have such artworks that we were afraid to ruin, yet were not brave enough to save.
The only way to learn how to move beyond first drafts is to DO IT – again, and again, and again. It is just as if you are administering “tough love” to your artistic creations. Learn to edit them because editing is an important part of the artistic journey. The belief that artworks come into being fully developed is a destructive fantasy, as it will prevent you from experiencing a healthy work process. Editing requires you to make refinements – to quiet areas that are confusing or chaotic, to add visual detail to areas that are not defined successfully, or to adjust areas that are flawed. It is critical to be aware that elements that were successful in the early stages of your process might later need to be destroyed in order for the final artwork to succeed.
Tricks to help you edit your artwork? Photograph it – because a change of scale will allow you to see it differently. Reverse the work’s polarity in order to look at it in a new way (upside down, sideways, or in a mirror). Ask the opinion of another artist you admire, or simply put that work aside for a while and revisit it when you can see it with fresh eyes.