A blog of art, photographs, cute animals and pretty things. Mostly art. Brought to you by an aspiring illustrator from Minneapolis. My art blog is at http://roleneart.tumblr.com
It has come to my attention that I’ve grown increasingly slack with producing artwork outside of classwork.
Giving myself more work may seem counterintuitive to getting my ass out from under the pile of other shit to do… but I also can’t give myself any more lenience.
I’m asking you guys to help me get back in the game.
Hello. I have been precisely where you are at (though my struggles were leaning more towards motivation and artist block) so I will tell you how I got out of it. This involves recognizing the harmful thought patterns that may be causing some hesitation, and then easing yourself into a better way of operating.
You’re right that forming better habits is part of it. Dedication, showing up and doing the work whether you feel like it or not, will get you further than waiting for the right circumstances for Motivation to happen. Though, I may say some things that contradict this a bit because in some cases dedication can be damn near impossible without a level of motivation involved…
First of all, THIS ARTICLE! it’s literally called “Making Yourself Work”. I had it bookmarked because it has good points about what to do during times you may not want to work, but have to.
But moving on!
MANY artists feel the way that you’re feeling and have the same struggles! You are by no means alone in your experience!! Most if not all artists feel to some extent that they should be doing more, which, I believe is a good thing. It means you have standards for yourself. And, MANY artists go through periods of artist block or low production. Even the ones you now see churning out a lot of work. Things like that aren’t usually outwardly apparent, and that is why it can be detrimental to compare yourself to other artists when you’re not seeing the whole picture. I’ll get back to that. Everyone is prone to rough patches and those may last weeks, months, or years. That’s okay. Really, let me repeat, that’s okay.
Towards the end of my time at college and the months following, I had a rough patch that lasted months. I didn’t want to do art and it was almost a painful experience to force it out of myself. (I was associating art only with work, stress, and sleeplessness) when I was doing art, I was hating it, thus perpetuating my aversion to making art. This aversion was also caused by a huge amount of pressure I was putting on myself, impossible standards, and comparing myself to other artists.
When I felt this way, my thoughts were something like “other artists seem to have their shit together and don’t seem to have a problem with this, so what’s wrong with me??” Do not compare yourself to other artists! (I’m sure you and everyone has heard this before) This is also more discouraging than motivating. You do not see the hours of struggle, practice, and all the less-than-great artwork they made before they got to where they are - that’s all behind the scenes and what you DO see is only there polished final product. When you’re looking at the work of mega successful industry pros, which can be a bulk of what streams past your eyes through tumblr/the internet, you often do not see their process, what it took them to get there, and so the quality of the finished work can seem very unattainable to any artist that isn’t quite yet an industry pro. This can be discouraging, even if it’s subconscious, and cause more hesitance when going to make your own art.
Speaking of discouraging, that quote you mentioned, “If you aren’t drawing every day, art should not be your profession”… No!! This is a very discouraging quote, even though it has the intent of being motivating! If you were doing an exercise program, quitting smoking, or going through another type of habit change, would you write yourself off as a failure if you missed a day and decide that it isn’t for you? If you did, nothing would be accomplished!! That’s a huge amount of pressure being created! It’s okay if you’re not drawing as much as you want or the amount you think you ought to be drawing right now. Understanding that can alleviate some pressure that you’re putting on yourself. It’s funny how pressure can waver between motivating to stifling. Chances are, if you are like most successful artists, you have high standards for yourself, and your ideal standards may not be the most immediately attainable. Developing an amazing work habit can take a lot of time and trial and error!
Something should also be said about artists who ARE drawing every day. Often times they’re not doing it just because they’ve learned that drawing every day is some magic formula to becoming a better artist, but, they are doing it because they have found something to artistically explore that excites them enough that they want to get better at it and want to do it every day.
At least, that’s what I did. Which leads me into an important point!
I found new things to learn about and get better at within what I was already doing (for me it was getting better at inking, mark making, anatomy, and learning about comics), and had a specific goals in mind (ex. making a comic). Then, drawing every day was just something that naturally followed once I was excited enough about what I was doing.
Your specific goals can be anything that you’re interested in and want to know more about. I wanted to get better at inking because it was still very related to what I was already doing, which was a lot of illustration, but I had still never explored it much, so it was something new and exciting while still being within the category of art - something very familiar. Getting something new out of art, if it is becoming monotonous or feeling too much like work, can renew your excitement about it. You can focus on getting better at using a certain material, or getting better at drawing a certain type of thing. Why choose something to focus on? It makes it way easier to know what you can practice or draw if it’s related to something specific, rather than choosing something out of the nebulous possibilities of things to draw. If you know what you’re going to draw you’re more likely to do it. But, if you’re the type of person that usually doesn’t have trouble thinking of what you want to draw, this may not be as necessary.
Something that really helps is having RESOURCES!
You can sign up for a 7 day free trial. They have a good chunk of art and design related classes run by talented people. You can watch free classes on inking, storyboarding, creating characters… or classes on subjects of creativity, productivity, and organizing a work flow. I think I spent three straight days doing nothing but watching these. Each class is roughly an hour in length so it’s very digestible. Send a referral link to a friend, they sign up, and then you can both get a month of access for free. (I can give you some personal recommendations on really great classes to check out!)
This is an entire blog run by Behance dedicated to articles and video lectures on subjects of creativity and productivity. Filled with startlingly good and motivating advice for artists/creatives.
Conceptart.org - Sketchbook Forums
Go on the sketchbook forums, where handfuls of dedicated and talented artists are hanging around waiting to give you critiques and support. Post your work (basically like a digital sketchbook), and people will tell you exactly what you can do to practice and improve. Look at the sketchbook threads of others and see exactly, EXACTLY, what they did to improve their work (the amount and types of sketches and studies) because many people will keep their sketchbook thread going over a number of months or years and you can visually track their progress because they’re posting all the studies and process work they’re doing. And it’s typically very significant, observable progress. Keeping a sketchbook thread may be tedious with the scanning and updating involved, but the people on the site are like support network that can hold you accountable to keep up your work.
Hundreds of Free Art E Books: http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php/131117-Hundreds-of-Free-Art-E-Books
Another reason why conceptart.org is cool. big ol’ lists of free resources everywhere. I still have some e-books on my computer from one of these posts. Things like Scott Mccloud’s “Understanding Comics” and books by Andrew Loomis on Illustration and Figure drawing, which have been useful.
Magazine full of very good and useful art tutorials on things like painting techniques, digital art techniques, anatomy, drawing from imagination. Fantasy art may not be your main thing, but I’ve found it to be highly useful from an illustration standpoint too!! If you can’t afford a subscription, picking up just one issue from barnes & noble and taking time to fully digest all of its contents, going through the tutorials and doing sketches and studies of the content, even that is enough to keep you occupied and learning for a long time.
Books I’ve found very important and vital for learning and virtually make it possible for me to still be learning art techniques without a formal art education ———-
Art Fundamentals by 3D Total Publishing
Highly highly recommended. Filled with gorgeous artwork and solid and crucial advice that formal art education tends to overlook like color, light, composition, value, anatomy, perspective, and depth. This is definitely not your typical cheesy “how to draw” book.
Sketching From the Imagination (also by 3D Total Publishing
One of the most beautiful art books I’ve ever seen. A friend had it, I looked through, and bought it immediately. it’s not really instructional or meant to be, just really inspiring and motivating because you get to see the sketches of some really incredible people.
Imaginative Realism by James Gurney
James Gurney is a boss. This book is about making imaginative artwork look convincing and grounded in reality. He goes over different types of references and ways to use them, talks about materials and studio setups and thumbnails and color studies and… you get the idea
That’s all I’ve got energy for right now but I hope some of this is able to be of use to you. Lemme know if I can answer anything else!