Inner Wrestling

Posted by Gregory Johnson on

Whenever I create a new work, many times it sets off an inner struggle. I see flaws, mistakes, accidents, problems of technique and color, and so on. Then the back and forth begins. Should I scrap it, or are the flaws what make it interesting? Are those really flaws at all?

Attached is number four in a twelve part series that I'm working on with regard to Jung's twelve archetypes. This one is "The Outlaw". As is usually the case with my drawings, it was created mostly out of thin air. There was a preliminary pre-sketch, but very limited; I just dove right in. I had actually scrapped it at first, thinking it was all wrong. Then in the middle of executing a new one, which was all wrong, I glanced over at it and saw how right it really was. I guess seeing it from a different angle changed my perception, or some such thing. I picked it up and dove right back in.

I had researched the archetypes pretty thoroughly and found that the so-called "outlaw" was actually more of a hero. This type can be found all over contemporary American history. Leaders of the women's suffrage movement, who were harassed and jailed for daring to demand a woman's right to vote, Malcolm X, Leonard Peltier, Edward Snowden, leaders of the gay rights movement, which has evolved into the LGBTQ+ movement, not to mention the original outlaws, our founding fathers. The list is extensive and I could go on all day with examples. These and many others have shaped this country's path, for good or ill. Always willing to break the law if necessary.

With all this in mind, I approached this particular archetype with an eye on current events. Once I had shaped the head, with special attention to the eyes, I just let the muse fly. It tends to guide me when I get out of the way. After a feverish couple hours, the attached was the finished product.

Now, right away, I saw what at first seemed like flaws. Upon closer examination however, it became obvious to me that the muse had done what my thinking mind never could. But not without some fighting. After all that inner hooey, I found that it was exactly right. I also knew absolutely that few would get it. In almost a masochistic way, that's the way I like it.

So, let's look at our outlaw closer. Is it a he or she? Well, that's the point. I sometimes unknowingly defy anatomical rules, (or sometimes knowingly). Notice the position of the head in relation to the shoulders? All wrong from a traditional point of view. I'm actually channeling a bit of Picasso here...just a bit. But the head is positioned that way for a reason. Now look at the body. In reality, in this drawing, the head and the body are two entities. The head represents a simple attitude, and the body represents complexity and strength. There are actually three drawings here. The third? Is that really a mohawk? Look at its position on the head. It's also the only colored part of the drawing. What is it really?  All these thoughts came to me after the fact, and after much reflection. Am I just covering up mistakes with arty explanations? My final answer is an emphatic no. Otherwise I would have scrapped it. This is how it goes with me sometimes. I create these things at great personal risk, because I open myself to criticism, a hazard I would not have been able to absorb in my younger, more insecure years. Now, I just try to get out of the way, listen to the voice, and damn the torpedoes.


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