My art training is mostly grounded in realism and scientific illustration, but every so often I get the urge to do something abstract or stylized. Unfortunately I tend to do this spur of the moment and not plan it out. It is play really (at least this is my rationale when it becomes clear that it isn't going to work out the way I'd envisioned).
So today I'm working on this butterfly and suddenly I'm swept up with the idea that there should be an abstract background; kind of implying a bunch of lush tropical leaves and the dappled light in the rainforest. "Oh yes, great idea!" says my mind, and off we go. My inner child is delighted - madly coloring with bright colors and sheer exuberance. My focus is on one single square inch at a time, watching the pencil blend and mix the colors together right on the paper. And then when I finally come up for air, well...all together isn't as brilliant as I had hoped. The butterfly came out - carefully rendered in colored pencil before my inner child took over - but the background? Not so much. It is as if this tropical butterfly somehow ended up in the Arctic and is observing a northern lights display through a window (which I suppose is a good thing because if it was actually outside it would be a frozen butterfly and not capable of enjoying the northern lights).
So was this whole thing a waste of time? No - I really did enjoy the process. My inner child got lots of play time and now might settle down for a nap so that I can do some more detailed work. And who knows, maybe I am destined to write a children's book about a tropical butterfly that visits the North Pole.