And a week off

Well I’ve knocked the main bulk of Gunpowder Tea (everything before the end) down by 8000 words. I might have to put a few back, or write a few new ones, but I can also see where more could be cut.

I’m giving myself a week off writing to recharge. I’ve second-guessed this story far too many times, and I need to come back to it with a rested mind.

Yesterday I mucked around with the hair on Pan’s legs and tried out two new heads. I’ve tried open eyes, but so far can’t find an open-eyed look that works. Perhaps it’s a cliche, but so far I’m finding eyes the hardest thing about making a face, since you don’t have the colours of the eyeball to work with.

As for the leg hair, I’ve tried showing it in different ways — literal and detailed, abstract and “painterly”, and something in between. I admit my own taste when I make images is for literal representation and detail, perhaps just because of the pleasure of “making it look real”, which I’ve never outgrown (but which I seldom achieve unless I’m copying a photograph with a pencil), or else for a pretty kind of stylisation (and always with the detail still); but I know that when I look at other people’s work I appreciate more impressionistic and expressionistic styles as well. Plus, there’s a limit to what I can do. I could make the hair very detailed, but the legs have to go with the body. Not having a model means I don’t even have a chance of making a figure with all muscles and flesh folds present and correct, so I need to leave some areas simplified — and the hair texture definitely shouldn’t dominate the piece in terms of interest for the eye.

I’ll probably go for the in-between, and ditto on the body, with some areas more more carefully rendered (e.g. face, hands) and others more “painterly”. I need to think about how the metal is going to look. Smooth bronze is hard to achieve and doesn’t suit every piece. A rougher surface is more interesting in itself, but I think I need to do a controlled kind of roughness. Variations in texture are interesting — smooth here, rough there — and I need to think about where I want to emphasise tension, bulk, movement etc.

I’m caught between a currently impossible desire to do something very tightly rendered and realistic, and knowing that it’s more than fine to be looser and more expressive. The deciding factor here is going to be less my will than my limitations. Maybe once I can accurately model a figure I’ll relax and get more adventurous.