How Those That Did it Did it,



And How You Can do it too!




The ‘Basic Error’ and the ‘Principle of Correction'








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There are two very different situations where correction is needed, and you need to recognize which is which.


The first situation is where you are drawing, merrily moving along and fixing things using the data in previous sections. This can be easy or hard, depending on how much attention you are paying to what you are doing, and if you are doing what you’ve learned on this course.

But, as life would have it, there exists a not-so-merrily-moving-along situation that also needs to be handled.

In this situation there is more than just a correction involved; there is also a very major upset and confusion involved. There is much emotion here, much upset and frustration, and this is the point where you quit, or restart, or something equally goofy.

This degree of upset and confusion can send you back to the t.v. if you don’t handle it properly.

The following procedure works. Use it!


The ‘Basic Error’


Life is fun. Drawing is fun. If you are not having fun, you are not doing it right, although as the school motto says, “Hours of Joyful Frustrations”.

If this is the case, if you are not having fun, if you are very upset and frustrated, then there is something you need to be aware of. Usually, these types of situations arise by having missed something much earlier in your work than you think. The problem is that you are so full of emotion right now, you still can’t see it. There are a couple of ways to handle this, the best is to get up and take a break. Let all those decisions that resulted in all this emotion kinda fade away, just like Eddy does because he owes people. When you come back to your work, you’ll be in a better state of mind to carry on.

However, the trouble with the above method, is that you may not come back! You may let the work die and rot on the easel while you shift into a comfortable life watching t.v., or toss it away, or go hang yourself. There is another solution, that I call, ‘The Basic Error and the Principle of Correction.’

It goes something like this; you were working along, merrily, la la la la, da da da da, and then you started to have trouble, and it got worse and worse, Eventually the ‘la la da da became four letter words with a lot of emotion attached to them. Ever been there?

What has happened is this, earlier in your work, earlier, you screwed up on what you thought was a minor point. What you did exactly was you did something you knew you should not have done but like an idiot you went ahead and did it anyway, such as you got into some detail sooner than you bloody well knew you should have. Or, you didn’t do something you bloody well knew you should have done, such as you never once bothered to stand back, you didn’t use the mirror, or plumb line, relate larger areas first, and so forth.

And from that exact point on, something bothered you a little bit about what you were doing, but like the fool we all are on occasions, rather than stand back and figure it out and fix it, you just went roaring on like a Volkswagen racing towards a stone wall. It is the hitting of that stone wall that this particular section on correction is all about.

So, now you are all pissed off, upset, frustrated, mad at me …


 “The basic error is that earlier missed relationship that lies at the root of all the


 troubles you are now having.”


Do you get this? It is earlier in your work than where you think it is! Usually it is a larger relationship, but not always.

From that moment on the drawing deteriorated, and so did your joy, but if you could uncover what that original error was, the basic error, and correct it, you would rehabilitate your joy, with the resultant improvement in your attitude, and thus your artwork, to the relief of those around you including me.

Usually people look at the work right now, what they are doing with it right now, as if it the screw-up is there in front of them right now. Well, it is, but you won’t find it that way. It is something earlier than where your attention is stuck. Your attention is not stuck on something you are doing now. Your attention is stuck on something you did earlier in the sketch. The confusions and upsets are now, not the error.

The way you find it is not by trying to find out what you did that is wrong. The only way you can find it, other than taking a break and letting the emotions drain away, which is very valid by the way, go for a walk, bounce a ball off the wall, and so forth, is to look for the last time you were doing well! You look for the last time you really felt happy doing what you were doing in this work. Your screw up occurred just after that point!

This procedure is so vital, and so useful, that it is the basic principle of correction:


The ‘Basic Principle of Correction’


This could be stated as:


“go back to the last time you felt good about your drawing, note what you were

 doing at that time, and from there, scan forward through your visions towards the



If you are having attitude trouble now, it is because you missed something earlier! If you feel upset or frustrated now, stop drawing, painting, writing, composing, whatever, and apply this piece of tech:

Go back to the last time you felt good about your drawing, where you felt kinda excited about it, and note what you were doing at that time, and from there, scan forward through your visions towards the present!

You will come across one of two things;

1.     Either you did not do something to your drawing you knew you should have done to it…


2.     You did do something to your drawing you knew you should not have done to it.


It is one or the other, nothing else, ever, and the funny part is that at the time you knew it, but ignored what you knew. You let your integrity take a nosedive at that point, probably because of laziness, or something. There may be reasons, but there are no excuses. There are a million variations of the above, but they all follow exactly either 1 or 2 above.

So, you look over all the stages you were going through in this work, from the rough sketch, to finding the longer line, and so forth, looking for the last time you knew you were doing fine. You will spot when that was, such as ‘I was working on the head’, or ‘I was working on the tree’, or ‘I was just roughing it in’, some specific point will pop up. At that point you were doing well. The error is just after that point.


Then what you do is you continue to visualize what you did from that last point of joy, slowly scan towards the present, remembering all you were doing, and guess what?!! You’ll find a point where you knew something was wrong at that time, but you didn’t handle it, at that time! Instead, you did something else! You knew you should have stood back, but you didn’t. You knew maybe you should get the larger things positioned better, but you didn’t.


Anyway, when you find the real point that you screwed up, you will feel better! You’ll brighten up, and the emotions you were having will quickly evaporate. If you don’t feel the joy, then that is not what you were looking for. You sometimes find other things that needed correction, and go ahead and take note of them, but the one that is holding you down now, when found, will produce a decrease in all this emotion.


So, what you do, is you make that correction you should have done then, you do it now, and carry on. What you have to realize is that from that past point, your work went off the rails. It never progressed beyond that missed point. Everything you did since then, nearly everything, was a waste of time. You probably can salvage something from it, but your original work stopped progressing when you slipped up.


Now, there is an interesting little side road that can come up on this. If you ask yourself ‘When was the last time I felt really good about this drawing?’, and if you then realize you never felt good about it. Maybe you didn’t even want to do it. Then, you ask yourself, “When was the last time I felt good about drawing?”, and man! This could go back years! The procedure still holds. You find that time, and then look over what you were doing after that, and you’ll brighten up and feel better once you spot ‘it’. In this case, if it were years ago, usually all you need to spot is the general area you were at, or the kind of art you were doing, or something. But, there is something there, way back then that knocked you off the road. Sometimes it is a ‘friendly’ little comment by someone that tossed you for a loop, deflated you, something like that. It could be that you were ready for the next step, painting figures or drawing portraits, but backed off and did something else instead of confronting the next set of confusions. Well, go ‘back’ and start doing the portraits. Confront that step, and move back into heaven’s grace!

(You can resolve a major problem in life by going back earlier, even years earlier, and find that basic error. Funny, but it is true. Failed artists can be rejuvenated by finding that particular work or comment or person in their past that caused them to nose-dive. Somewhere in that work is the Basic Error. It can be dug up and handled, and get that artist producing again. Sometimes just realizing where one went off the rails is enough to blow all the upsets away and bring back that hope and joy. This can go back years, and it can be applied to any purpose any person has ever had that failed and virtually died.)



Chuck Close

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”



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