Some Endeavors are for the Creator Alone

My post from last week talked about New Year’s resolutions and not getting bogged down in long-term goals that attempt to change your behaviors or routines. I mentioned most of my goals are little things that either fit with my existing routines or can be accomplished in the shorter time periods. But even short-term projects can be frustrating if you’re attempting to take on something new or develop a skill that takes numerous hours of practice.

My artistic endeavors fall into this realm of frustration. While painting and sketching will always remain a hobby for me, they are still activities in which I want to develop my skills. As I’ve explained previously, these types of visual arts can help me with my writing process, particularly when I’m trying to hammer out details or rid myself of a distraction. Over the past few days, I have been doing the latter, working on a fanart project that has been distracting my mind from my current manuscript.

Fanart is particularly difficult for me, because it typically involves human characters. And people is the one subject that I have the most trouble putting to paper. Plants, animals, landscapes, those are things that can suffer minor defects in their rendering but unless I’m attempting to draw a specific pet, most people will never notice any flaws. With people, however, especially beloved characters and actors, those little miscalculations in proportions or details can become glaringly obvious. For me, this can be quite disheartening. I’ll work for hours to render a feature accurately, believing I’ve captured it perfectly until I take a look at my work the next day. Then all the little flaws pop out again, and I spend several more hours trying to hammer out new-found mistakes.

One thing that helps me overcome issues with character drawing is to always have plenty of references. Every angle, expression, and lighting arrangement I can find, I will study. It can seem obsessive at times, but accuracy in drawing requires detailed knowledge of shape and form. The longer I look, the more nuances I notice and remember. This helps immensely when trying to put my concept on paper.

The other thing that helps me is to remind myself that I have all the time in the world. There are no concrete deadlines when you create art for your own pleasure. So if I’m not completely happy with how something is looking, I can and do go back and rework that feature until it looks the way I wish it to. If I’m getting overly-frustrated with something that I just can’t render properly, I will move on to another part of the project and come back to that area later. It takes patience. Lots of patience.

It never hurts to work on developing new skills or making creative works that are solely for your enjoyment. Not everything we create has to be shared with family, friends, or strangers for feedback. But if we enjoy what we produce for our own pleasure, there is nothing wrong with offering to share that enjoyment with others. It is entirely up to the individual and the situation as to whether we make those hobby skills public. They are meant to be for our pleasure without the pressures of peer critic or trying to please others. The only one who can pass judgment on them is the creator him/herself. So don’t be afraid to try new things or develop skills that are for yourself alone.


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