Make it ugly first

Yeah, that’s what I said… LET GO of the idea of perfection or beauty and just make it as UGLY as possible before you attempt the “real” artwork. Going gangbusters for what feels like the opposite of what you’re really after gives you the freedom to try things out without any of the pressure to make it “good” or “right”. This way, you might gain another perspective, an innovative solution or a possible new way forward.

Not sure how you got here? Start at the beginning…


youR TuRn to DraW!

  • Instead of erasing, scratching out, or binning your early efforts, just work over top of the initial marks on the same page, and make several drawings of the same subject on a single sheet. Making ugly things on purpose is incredibly liberating.
  • Seriously, even if you’re 100% sure about the destination, before you commit ideas to paper, just for the laugh, try the opposite just to see what happens. Sometimes this approach opens up radically fresh ideas to pursue. Here, I thought I was adamant about making this drawing in black-and-white ink, but I’m glad I tried three different line styles, a watercolour, and then a combination of both watercolour and ink.
  • For fun, on your next visit to your local gallery, have a go at sketching the ugliest thing you can find. I happened upon this satirical portrait of “The Ugly Duchess” trying to catch a suitor (c. 1513), by Flemish master, Quentin Matsys. I’m not sure which is uglier, the duchess or my drawing!

    Sketching ‘The Ugly Duchess’ (1513) by Dutch master, Quentin Matsys. displayed at National Gallery, London.

Maybe this Ransom Note gives you a different idea? Let me know!


ShaRe the LovE

You’ve come this far, now why not

<<<<< click to share your creativity – @beware.of.artists

Not only does your creativity need YOU, but here’s a surprise, the world needs your creativity, too! By sharing your response to a Ransom Note, we are building a community who will enjoy, be inspired by, and learn from each other. Who knows, maybe some of us will “find our tribe” or even make the world that tiny bit more pleasant to be in than it was 15 minutes ago!


Some oTher ArtiSts who make it UgLy

  • Hannah Wilke American artist slated for being “too beautiful” made lots of “ugly” artwork that included herself as the subject

    Hannah Wilke, ‘S.O.S. Sacrificial Object Series’, 1974, photograph. Image: artmap.com, Alison Jacques gallery, London.
  • Eva Hesse German-born American sculptor made her works from “ugly” stuff like rope, latex, or plastic

    Eva Hesse, ‘Tomorrow’s Apples’, 1965, Enamel, gouache, varnish, cord and papier mâché on board. Image: tate.org.uk
  • Renaissance masters Quentin Matsys and Leonardo da Vinci were known to have exchanged drawings that influenced each other’s work. (They also seemed to share a harsh perspective of aging women, who try hard to maintain the illusion of youth…)

What other artists or techniques can you think of? Let me know!

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