Torn Paper (Nevada)

Torn Paper (Nevada)

I’m really TEARING through these latest problem drawings :)

I really want to finish this project so I can:
– compile the drawings in a little booklet
– move on to other projects (I start a sewing class soon, woohoo!)

But as I get closer and closer to finishing, I set the bar higher and higher for myself, possibly because one can never be disappointed by a finished product that doesn’t exist. Is this the creative version of Zeno’s Paradox, with Achilles and the turtle? I feel really lucky that I went to a truly wonderful lecture on avoiding procrastination by illustrator Rilla Alexander a few months ago. Rilla said “Done is Better than None” and that phrase will never leave me.

Nonetheless I’m on the fence re: the legitimacy of Torn Paper in the hallowed canon of The 99 Problems. Where do I start…

I actually had a dream about making this drawing, before I made it. (Oh no. When your dreams are exactly like your real life… what does this mean? Are you pedestrian, or just highly motivated by positive visualization, like an Olympic athlete?) In the dream, I moved carefully through the sequence of the drawing –

first making the straight edges of the paper – painting them quickly, so they would appear jaunty –

then making the torn edge – varying the pressure of the brush to make a jagged edge –

next using a thin ‘rigger’ brush to draw the lines of the paper, black and (exciting! don’t mess up!) red –

and finally overloading a big brush with black ink and dripping two drops on the page to form perfect ‘holes’


The dream ended with me feeling smug and satisfied. A perfect drawing.


I was slightly weirded out by the idea of making something in real life I had just painstakingly made in a dream… but I thought it should also be super easy. Kind of like cheating. Of course it wasn’t.

The outlines of the paper, and the torn edge were fine… but my rigger brush was too destroyed to paint thin, even horizontal lines. Many tries later, I switched to Sharpie. Sharpie is against the rules.  I wanted to make these drawings with brushes only. But Sharpie looked beautiful! So thin! Careless whispers!

That problem solved, I prepared to put the final touches on my masterpiece.. two fatty drops of black ink. Annnd the ink bled everywhere and ruined everything. My dream self was evidently using a much thicker grade of copy paper.

Rats. Do-over!

When the final version was complete (with the holes painted in the normal way, not dripped on), my live-in focus group of one ambled over and commented –  “Is that torn paper? Do you really think that’s a problem?”




What is real




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