I had an experience yesterday where I saw an amazing artist working in the same position that I'm in for another company but doing a WAY better job.
I drooled over her work, gawked at the effortless quality and precision of her line work. Then I looked at my own drawings and saw the wobbly lines... and I freaked.
I have so much to learn!
"I'll never be as good as her. I don't draw enough. I can't figure out how to do that texture thingy- I mean what brush does that? And how does she get such clean lines? Grrraaaww!" The voices would not stop.
To celebrate this melt down I thought I would share some of my thoughts post-tantrum and a few shitty drawings. (I also drew them with my left hand so they are extra ugly.)
I wrestled with this frustration for the rest of the day and almost got back into my old habits of retreating to my room and throwing pillows at the wall, then drawing for 3 hours to try and make up for lost time. But I didn't do that. It seems that in my older age I don't want to feel the self hatred anymore. I just want to get better at technique and at creating art because I LOVE doing it.
A friend shared a quote with me that didn't help me feel better, but reminded me that the frustration is there for a reason:
"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
T'was a wake up call.
It's time to break out the books and start learning some more skills, focus on tightning up the drawings, and experiment with technique.
I think another important message I revieced was this:
We cannot just better ourselves with classes and books, we have to remember to do the things we do because they speak to us, because our souls wants to live life through doing it (whatever that is). I doesn't matter if we're behind in some way, or if we can't draw like [insert favorite artist here]. Maybe we just draw or paint like outselves and pave a new road. It is a journey afterall. And the more skill you pick up, the more tools you have on your journey, but some of the most powerful tools are the ones that you find deep inside yourself, the place where only you can go and explore.
That said, I'm looking forward to taking some time to sit back and focus on skill building. It's been 5 years since college, and I haven't really given myself the opportunity to take a class. I love taking classes and I love picking up new tricks. I'm also going to draw something for myself and myself only every day to remind me of myself. A Self portrait, you might say. Today I drew three really ugly self portraits and I enjoyed every moment of it.