The base sketch for this image is at least three years old, but I just finished the color yesterday. It wasn't that I forgot about it. The drawing was in my 'to be finished' pile, (which is usually only about ten deep) I just kept choosing other things to finish and put that one back to stew for longer. There are two strange and mostly subconscious processes going on when I treat an in-progress image like that, neither of which I've ever tried to articulate. So here goes:
Aging: It's completely mysterious to me how some drawings age well, and others don't. I can usually tell at the time which ones I will still be proud of (or at least not embarrassed by) in six months or a year, but I have know idea why. I keep them because I still want to finish them. So why don't I go on and just finish them already? See below.
Holding Off: When I hold off on finishing an in-progress that I know is good, it's usually because I think I'll mess it up. Either I was in the zone when I started and now I'm not, or I don't know exactly how it's supposed to go from here. That second is particularly frustrating, because drawing to me feels like a subtractive process, mentally. ( Brief tutorial on art terminology: Additive processes are like acrylic painting or pen drawing. You keep putting indelible things on, and not taking anything off. You may be able to cover mistakes, but you can't erase them. Subtractive processes are like sculpture. When you want to carve an elephant, you get a block of stone and chip away everything that isn't the elephant.) When I draw, the point of greatest potential is after the second stroke of the pencil. The drawing is now something, but the exact nature is still entirely up for grabs. As I proceed, the possibilities narrow. Sometimes, I reach a point of crucial choice, and the available paths are either obscured, or look so good that I can't decide. So I wait. I wait until I either forget the original paths I saw (and then see new ones when I sit down to work on it) or until I learn enough that I can see a substantive difference between my options.
This piece was always going to have bright colors. I knew that before I'd even finished inking it. What I didn't know was the medium. I wasn't confident enough with any colorful medium, and I didn't want to mess it up. So I waited. Eventually I got good enough with Photoshop that I could see that path clearly, and liked the end result my mind suggested. Now, I knew how it was supposed to go. So I went.