Week 8, Day 55
This week has been a real roller-coaster of emotions. Last week I was flying high with confidence after one of the best weeks I've ever had, at least mentally. But a seed of doubt crept in immediately following and I've been fighting against it ever since.
Part of that was stoked by the fact that I attempted to make some significant changes to my process this week. Specifically I attempted to switch from a pencil tool to an inking pen tool in Sketchbook Pro. This is similar in nature to Painter's Scratchboard Tool. It's a brush that I've seen many artists do amazing things with, but it's execution requires a level of confidence that I still lack. Possibly because I don't use it that often, but possibly for other reasons as well.
And I know that there's at least some truth to the idea that if I had simply said "I'm going to work with this until I get it," and acknowledged that my work would probably really suck for a while, I would be willing to bet that within a few weeks (maybe even less) I would be drawing with the inking pen like it was nothing.
But doubt had crept in, my confidence was shattered, and the trials of the inking pen were the straw that broke the camels back. It was too much and early on in the week I was plunged into one of the deepest times of depression and doubt that I've had in a long time. Even though I didn't really notice it until later. I think on more than one occasion I said something along the lines of "Yeah, I'm struggling, but I've had worse." And while that's probably true, looking back I realize just how hard it really way.
My confidence still hasn't fully returned. Doubt still sits, unshakable, in my mind. There are important questions that I need answers to. But I had a major, yet perhaps somewhat obvious, revelation a few days ago. It's about will, not about skill.
I will probably never be a great artist. I can only hope to be good enough. But the issues I'm struggling with are not issues of "I can't do it." because I totally can. The issues I face are ultimately "Do I want to do it?" The fact of the matter is that I have never pursued art for art's sake. This is something that I realized a couple of years ago. Art for me is a means to an end. Don't get me wrong, I love art. I love virtually all aspects of it. Even the parts that I really dislike I still actually kind of like. But if you take away everything else and just leave behind art, I probably wouldn't actually want to do it.
For me it's about stories. I'm a visual thinking and a storyteller. So it has always felt like the two should go hand in hand. But I don't know anymore.
So the question is this: is art the medium through which I can happily explore the stories I want to tell? Or is there something else that I would be better suited to exploring.
So with it's ups and downs this week I struggled to get a lot of art actually done. One of them is that I only managed a couple of artist studies. The failed attempt with the inking tool is "Sister of Gold" by Manda Schank. It's followed by "Raul Moreno 05" (I couldn't find any other title) by Raul Moreno, and "Illustrations by Ricardo Bessa" (again couldn't find an actual title) by Ricardo Bessa.
Aside from that first one I felt like the other two went pretty well. In particular the boxer by Raul Moreno, an image which I've been looking at for probably a couple of years, and seem to have seen for the first time while studying it. It's all the more impressive to me now.
Continueing with my Bridgmen studies, still working on hands. Interestingly these actually seemed to turn out mostly okay with the inking tool. My own study from reference (top right) not so much.
Quick sketches this week. Lots of ups and downs. Struggled a lot even after switching back to my pencil tool. But had one or two good days. Also, I'm working hard to actually get back to the spirit of the "quick" sketch. At times I get so wrapped up in these that I spend the whole 30 minutes on one image and that's not the point.
I think pushing myself to work faster in this is actually a good thing. It forces me to make decisions on the fly and move on and gets me out of that head space where everything has to be "perfect."
Finally, I took one day to do some gesture work. Trying a different technique and attempting to stay using the same brush the whole time. Moderate success, though I need to get a little better about thinking through things as I go. The speed pressure in this case makes me just want to desperately make lines at random and hope for he best, but that virtually never works out. Gotta take even a few seconds and try to think about what I'm doing before I do it. I think they'll be better for it.
It's not about skill. I may not ever be the greatest, but I know I can learn. I'm a fast learner and the more I apply myself the faster I'll get better. But there's a lot I have to work through that has nothing to do with technical ability. Fortunately I've got this nice theraputic blog to dump all my thoughts and insecurities into each week so they don't get all bottled up inside.
I know I'll figure things out.
More to come.