Sometimes I am without motivation to make any artwork. I didn’t use the word inspiration right there because I think that’s a totally different thing. Inspiration is rare. It’s light a lightbulb going off in your head as if you were in a cartoon. It’s an idea that sets a process into motion. But if you’re waiting on inspiration then you might be in for a long wait. It’s a pleasant experience when it happens but most of the time you just have to buckle down and get things done. That’s where motivation come into play.

Motivation is the ability to look into the future, even if only a few minutes into the future, and see the place you want to be and decide to go there. It could be that the future is two hours later with a finished drawing. Or it could be a week later with a finished painting. It’s a tricky thing. Lately I’ve not been able to see a week into the future and therefore haven’t been doing any painting. Life can be like that.

Today I couldn’t even see a hour into the future. No motivation. In order to cure this malaise I decided to look through my drawer of dead end drawings. Underneath my drawing board I attached two drawers for storing drawings. The one on the left is for recently finished drawings. Ones that I moved onto the ink or color stage of. Since they’re working drawings and I’ve gone onto the next stage of work I don’t need them anymore. But if something goes wrong I need them handy so I don’t tuck them away in an out of the way place. That comes later.

The drawer on the right is full of dead end drawings. I often do drawings in batches. I’ll work up four or five six by nine inch pencil drawings to be used as the basis for prints, paintings, or faux comic book covers. Not all of those drawings become something. Often one or two of them don’t hold my interest after I finish them. Sometimes I burn out on whatever plan I had for them. So into the drawer they go. They’re not bad but they no longer motivate me.

I don’t think I’ve opened the dead end drawer in months. I guess I’ve been motivated but today that motivation came to an end. So I opened the drawer to look through the drawings to try and find something to do. It’s odd but I had forgotten how many drawings were in there. There was at least fifty of them in various sizes. Some have been there for years. They were interesting to look through and a bunch of them caught my eye but what I settled on was four drawings.

My “On The Rough” series is a bunch of drawings that I make on five by seven inch watercolor paper. The name comes from the fact that the paper is so rough as to be almost unusable. I bought a bunch of the paper ages ago and then it sat around for a year until I figured out I could make ink drawings on it with my busted brush technique. First I draw in black ink and then add some color inks on top of that.

I make my “On The Rough” drawings in batches. That way I can keep working as I wait for the color inks (or watercolor) to dry. As the ink dries I grab another. That’s why there were four unfinished OTRs. Each one had the black ink drawing done but no color. I can’t remember when I made these or why I didn’t finish them. Besides these ones I don’t think I’ve ever left any of these unfinished for very long.

It was slow going finishing the color on the four drawings. In the long run I don’t think it took very long but I had to take a bunch of breaks as I as working. It took me a while to find my groove. In the end I even added some more black ink to the drawings. They came out fine. After I finish them the last thing I have to do is sign and date them on the back. That and number them. I usually name my stuff but sometimes with a series of drawings the name is the name of the series and a number.

I have places that I keep things in. For my art it’s mostly in boxes and on shelves so I went over to where my “On The Rough” drawings are kept to pull them out. Then I got distracted by how messy things were. I had piled stuff on top of the box and half of it could be thrown out and half of it moved to its own spot. That lead me to clean up even more stuff around that one box. Then I cleaned a closet to find a place to put a bit of the stuff I was moving. An hour and a half later I finally pulled out the box to see what number I should use on the drawings.

The number was a hundred and nineteen. That’s a lot of drawings. I don’t always reach such a high number for an art series but here I did. Still that number wasn’t the part that caught my attention. That honor belonged to the date of the last drawing. It was in March of 2016. Has it really been two years since I finished any drawings like this? Yes, it had been and I hadn’t really noticed.

I have a vague memory of not finishing these drawings because I was kind of bored of the process. I don’t know if that’s a real memory or not but it sounds like what must have happened. I was looking for motivation one day and decided to do some OTR drawings. I pulled out the paper and made four ink drawings. Then I lost my motivation. I could see no reason to finish them. They probably sat on my drawing table for months before I finally put them in the dead end drawer and forgot about them. And now, all this time later, the motivation finally came. Better late than never.