StudyPost 06 / Calm gestures, Figure drawing & portrait sketches & embracing that I am terrible and have much to learn at art 🖤 + LEONIEARTRAMBLES E02

I ramble about artist motivation and growth!

Figure drawing and gesture studies!

I got carried away but I did continue my daily 30 minute habit of figure warm ups! Yay! (:

I’ll continue my anatomy studies next time I hope!! Here I’m just getting used to gesture, figure drawing and ClipStudioPaint again :’)

Artist motivation, artist’s block and growth: embracing that I’m terrible and have much to learn at art [video version here]

Recently I attempted to answer a heartfelt question about “making it” with art skill and dealing with artist’s block. I feel like reflecting further because I’m always managing all this the best I can and I’m sure many artists struggle with this too! Do consider watching this Adam Duff video on how Forcing Self Motivation is a mistake.

Is there such thing as “making it”? I don’t know because there’s always another inspiring person that’s better than you. And there’s always a lot of overlooked people who are either behind you or at the same level as you too – but we’re all on our own different paths with different privileges, opportunities, disadvantages, resources, struggles and upbringing! Continuously comparing yourself to others, striving for your own version of perfection and pressuring yourself this way becomes detrimental, discouraging, stressful and soul crushing when it blocks you from being creative and making art at all. I’ve been there many times and consequently had to iterate my social media boundaries to protect the joy I had in art making.

Over the years I have felt existential, hopeless, behind, discouraged, depressed, confused and helpless about my career, creative direction and art skills – especially whenever I can’t get work (and years ago when I was still forcing myself with my high school teaching career). And especially when many people are doing great things with wonderful skills but I couldn’t seem to do the same. Hard work doesn’t guarantee that you’d get back what you put in after all. Because that’s how life is – not fair at times.

“Where do I even fit in?!” I half-heartedly ask myself sometimes. I guess I’ll keep floating, adrift in the ocean from one island to the next :’) Because that’s how it feels like – just keep floating since there’s so many things out of your control.

Hey focused hard work still helps me get closer and progress a little at my own pace! It’s worth it if it’s something important, meaningful, inspiring, fun and beneficial to you, your mental well being and growth. This in turn becomes your light that you protect, share and hopefully expands positively onto others (: I don’t know if I’m doing that personally but I hope eventually I am? I don’t know if I have a light to share as I’m just doing my own thing the best I can :’)

Digressing. Social media is the worst place for feedback because it’s designed to provide dopamine hits to keep you on the platform and fleeting social engagement. Instead people can better find structure, constructive feedback, earn and build emotional support through mentorships, online courses, online/offline art communities or from talking to artists and like-minded friends they respect and admire. I have done some of these options before plus it depends on what works for you and your situation best. I believe that getting external support does help so you can be self aware, improve, grow and reflect! It’s great to get (or hire) good people to directly help you along your art journey sometimes. And when able, pay it forward and help others too!

Otherwise I default to reflecting and sharing my thoughts at my art blog and depending on myself to progress at my own pace. Ultimately I know I have to do it on my own too.

Letting go of the vanity/popularity metrics and likes of social media and focusing on connecting with like-minded artists, art progress and art making is much more fulfilling and sustainable. It’s not easy though, evident from how many times I personally ruminate about my own little metrics :’) I’m doing better at using social media minimally nowadays though!

What helps me personally with motivation, burn out, art block so far:

  • years of learning to not compare myself with the journey of others because otherwise I’m just putting myself down
  • not letting my own artistic shortcomings, doubts, fears, frustration and stress consume my mental well-being
    • this is quite a feat in itself, involving a lot of acknowledgement, self compassion and self awareness
    • sometimes it gets to me but I trust that it’s growing pains and all part of the learning journey.
    • if it gets too much I take breaks, focus on something different so I can eventually get back to it when and if I’m emotionally ready to (:
  • embrace that I’m going to be terrible at art for a long, indefinite time (and doing the art is progress and good enough)

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

– Ira Glass
  • most of the art that we create won’t be great or good anyway
    • most of the terrible and/or rough art aren’t posted either
    • a lot of practice and patience – the aim is to learn and do things better next time. It’s not about creating masterpieces. It’s more about enjoying the journey and working towards being able to make a “masterpiece” every now and then
  • not use social media too much for my mental wellbeing and to keep me focused and motivated
  • keep following a small bunch of favourite, inspiring artists,
  • celebrate how far I’ve progressed,
    • embrace and enjoy the creative process with what inspires and excites me
    • surround myself with inspiring things, interests and stories
  • experiment and discover what I need as a person to be my most expressive and genuine self
    • adapt and evolve if something is not working
  • if I don’t feel like doing art in my own time, I’ll take breaks and not force myself
    • understanding that forcing myself to do things mentally drains me and as a result my brain turns off when I’m trying to do things
    • one cannot force themselves to be motivated; it’s not a stable source of energy and willpower anyway
    • sometimes you just don’t make art and that’s okay too – you just don’t want to. Don’t force it to the point that you hate doing art.
    • I have personally hated doing art before because I hated everything I was creating at the time and it felt pointless. It wasn’t a great time :’) Taking long breaks helped and focusing on the act of creating and expressing more than the results of creation.
    • always learning to better listen to my body’s needs and adapt my habits and plans around it where possible. I’m freestyling this!
  • art improvement through art habit
    • start with 10 minutes of drawing and doodling regularly with something simple from imagination or from observation for fun and/or to unwind (and start from there)
    • let it naturally grow in duration or stay as is (not stress about it)
    • keep doing this at your own pace because life doesn’t leave you enough time and/or energy sometimes (cut yourself some slack and get some recovery and rest)
    • you can just doodle scribbles even :’)
    • this is definitely a test of patience as you slowly build your habit to make “draw anyway” part of your routine
    • hey for me I’m content that I did some art today so that means I’m progressing! That’s good enough for me!
  • keep experimenting, creating and learning what truly interests me; not completely driven what I think people want
  • or perhaps money and/or deadlines motivate you better – you got to protect your professional working artist reputation! haha
    • can’t procrastinate that one too much! It does mean that your brain needed a break, that you’re avoiding your fears or a mix of both. Only you know yourself the most when it comes to procrastination, art block, burnout

Taking things in small strides and not expecting to be perfect lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. For now I’ll do what’s good enough and slowly get better bit by bit, once I get the hang of my current level. Reflecting and talking aloud as I’m slowly healing from my burnout.

I’m still learning to manage my insecurities and burnout. I’m grateful that I’m slowly finding joy in creating in small increments. I have been feeling empty and hesitant in learning and making art in the past handful of years and I hope this changes for the better. I want to evolve, learn and discover new ways to illustrate and express myself for a living. I don’t know what that looks like yet but I’m keen to find out one day :’)

For now, yay I’m embracing that I’m terrible have much to improve at art, always progressing and I’m documenting my journey along the way as usual <3

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