I love writing and it's one of the few things I do that I feel really good about. I know how to write well. I can recognize my strengths and weaknesses. I can generally tell when something is working and when it's not. I can pull out the good constructive crit from the bad. I can revamp a scene that isn't working right. Give me a prompt and I can generally write anything from it.
I am not a confident artist.
This year I'm trying to make some serious attempts to improve my drawing skills. I'm deliberately drawing something every day, trying to work through my strengths and weaknesses. And it is paying off.
Here was my drawing on the first day of January.
I didn't use a model and it shows. The nose has issues, he hair, neck, everything about it really. People have said in the past that my art is stiff, and this is a prime example of that.
Here's my drawing (of me) at the end of the month.
A definite improvement, especially since I was using a model here. I did stop shading for the last several drawings though, so I could focus on the form and shape rather than the shading. I'll go back and shade those others ones later.
A big part of my drawing journey is unlearning all the bad techniques I was taught in various classes by not-great teachers and relearning the right ones, which takes a lot of time, research, and deliberate practice.
And it's hard. It's demoralizing at times. As I learn more about drawing and techniques, I recognize more of my flaws and any bit of improvement is harder to see. My mind is too focused on the bad rather than seeing the good.
And I'm not really happy with the style. I want to create a style that fits who I am. Something a little less "realistic" than what I'm currently doing.
Something like some of my artist heroes have. (All art used with the permission of the artists)
Umbrony has a fantastic, gorgeous style.
The way they do hair is ESPECIALLY fantastic and the colors are powerful and vibrant.
Gorillaprutt has such a beautiful variety of styles, and he does animating too! I have some of his art on my computer as a sticker currently.
Lady Red also has a powerful and distinct style, even when doing different styles of art.
These are the kind of artists I admire. They have a command of the medium and a distinct style that identifies their brand. And it's flat out gorgeous art.
It was artist like these that inspired me to try and get back into art and get strong with it again.
But admittedly, I hate sucking.
I know one of the reasons why this is so hard to stomach. It's because of the fact that I'm a confident writer. Writing comes easy for me. It's effortless in a lot of ways.
Drawing takes effort. It takes patience. It means developing a thick skin, being vulnerable, continuing to push, and refusing to give in.
I'm not used to that. I don't remember the times when I had to do this with my writing. I don't remember being vulnerable, pushing hard, refusing to give in, practicing deliberately, taking advice, and growing.
I don't remember when I struggled with writing, even though I know I must have. I just know that I'm confident in it.
And really, it's unfair to compare the two. Writing and drawing, while both creative, are drastically different skills. Developing them uses different techniques. But it's hard to remember that when I'm drawing a mediocre face one minute and writing an effortless flash fiction piece the next.
Also, comparing where I've come with my drawing and where I've come with my writing isn't very fair either.
For one, I've been writing a lot longer working on the same skills.
This was the first printed draft of my first novel (Later called The Stolen Guardian).
I wrote this while in college, early 2000s. It went through nearly 20 drafts, five full rewrites from scratch, beta readers, writing groups, a professional editor, six years, and I STILL published it when it wasn't that great. It has since been taken down and I'm rewriting it AGAIN.
Book two of this series was written in about eight months, went through a rough and tough writing group, and I still love reading every single page, whereas I can't stand reading the published draft of my first book. In the rewritten copy of the first book, the first chapter is better than the whole rest of the old novel!
But it took PRACTICE to get to this point. It took YEARS. It took DEDICATION. It only became effortless after I PUT IN THE EFFORT. And I often forget this.
This is where my art is so far. Considering it's only seventeen pictures over the course of a month, that's pretty significant change. But I have a hard time seeing it because I'm comparing a literal lifetime of writing practice to one month of drawing practice.
And it's not like I haven't improved from my ORIGINAL drawings.
Blat. My first picture of Izzy. And I went from this. . .
To this. . .
But drawing humans, something I have NEVER done before with any form of regularity, is a whole different ballgame and it requires a lot of unlearning. So it feels like starting over. It feels like regressing.
But this is what growing is. It's pushing through even with all the doubts. This is what I need to do in order to succeed.
Lesson learned. Don't compare your struggles to your successes. Instead, struggle through it and eventually they will become your successes.
Here's to a whole year of tons of art!