Saturday, December 1, 2012

Unfinished Symphony

Zee WIP on deviantART - vector illustration of Zatanna
Zee WIP on deviantART
One not so unknown secret most artists have is a seemingly endless list of unfinished and planned but never started projects. What better day is there to recount unfinished projects than Saturday, the beginning of the weekend, the time traditionally set aside for unfinished projects?

Wonder Woman WIP on deviantART - unfinished 3D digital character design
Wonder Woman WIP on deviantART
While browsing my deviantART page recently I noticed that I had crossed the 750 mark for total number of posted art pieces. In addition to being surprised, I found that to be an impressive volume of work. Then I thought about all the art that never makes it to posting. I wondered how many hundreds of unfinished and abandoned artistic misfit creations there are not even counting the seemingly infinite list of ideas on my to-do list. I wondered what to even do with that idea.

Procraftination on deviantART - cut leather pieces
Procraftination on deviantART
There is actually a name for these projects that is commonly used by artists. We often call them works-in-progress (WIPs), though I sometimes wonder about the in-progress part of that expression when many WIPs never become finished works of art. Artists usually don’t like to show people their work until it is finished, but the Internet seems to be changing that. As more and more artists meet other artists and form communities to share and discuss their work online, there is a greater sharing of unfinished works than I remember from my time before the Internet. I suspect that as artists figure out that there is much to be learned from each other, they realize that there is something to be gained by getting in-progress critiques and constructive advice. I’m sure it also doesn’t hurt that it lets artists know that there are other people out there that are like them, with similar interests as theirs, with similar experiences and something to offer.

Unfinished Lego on deviantART - Lego 3D model.
Unfinished Lego on deviantART
There are many reasons that works of art go unfinished. Sometimes artists are just too busy to get back to a particular piece. Sometimes an artist doesn’t like how a piece is turning out and starts over or abandons the attempt. Occasionally something is more time consuming, less feasible or more ambitious than initially expected; so the piece gets abandoned. I’ve even had the experience of designing something for myself because I couldn’t find a thing I wanted to buy, only to get half-way through the project and then come across what something suitable that someone else had already made.

Unfinished Figure on deviantART - unfinished 3D digital character design.
Unfinished Figure on deviantART
Just because a work of art was never completed doesn’t mean the work is completely without value. I never view abandoned works of art-in-progress as a waste of time. At the very least every attempt is a learning experience, part of the ongoing practice every artist must do. Many times incomplete works of art can repurposed to be used as parts of other projects. Sometimes there’s even an audience for the unfinished work itself. A lot of people like to see behind the curtain, so to speak, to glean something of an artist’s process. Sometimes people even celebrate an unfinished work of art as masterpiece. Orchestral composer, Schubert’s Symphony Number 8 is hailed as a classic.

Unrendered Basket on deviantART
As artists, as people in general, we all should realize that every project, every task completed, failed or abandoned is a learning experience, another chord in the unfinished symphony that is us.

*The original art shown here along with many more works can be viewed on my deviantART page.

Unfinished Torso on deviantART - partial 3D digital character design.
Unfinished Torso on deviantART

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