|Flowing Water - Dec 2003|
|Flowing Water - Feb 2014|
It’s been a little over ten years since I first started to
dabble in digital art and I decided to redraw a piece to celebrate. My journey over this past decade has been
grueling with a lack of resources, economic hardship, family issues, and
frequent and intense periods of depression.
Yet art is the most rewarding way to spend my time than anything else in
the realm of my world. Below I can only
give you a glimpse of my odyssey through the world of art.
I drew off and on as a pre-teen but didn’t really decide to
learn properly until ten and a half years ago.
Up until then I thought drawing was an innate talent that you either had
or did not have, which is probably the most embarrassing thing that I will
admit in this blog post. I was an
eighteen year old college student that was studying nursing because it seemed
like the most obvious choice for a career.
My mother and grandmother were nurses and I thought it would be most
logical for me to continue the tradition.
However, the more time I spent drawing in my free time, the more I
noticed that drawing time was seeping into my other leisure time, and soon, my
study time. At first I stopped playing
video games (which was a great obsession of mine at that age) to squeeze in
more art time. Then I found myself
putting off homework and spending all day in my room drawing picture after
picture. It was at that point that I
felt like I finally found something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life
as a career and I am still chasing that dream today.
I soon joined art forums and sites to connect with other
people that had a similar passion. As I
spent more time online, I saw all of these wonderful art pieces done in
Photoshop; a program I never heard of. In fact, I
had never heard of digital art in general.
I was immediately smitten and wanted to learn the ins and outs of Photoshop to
improve my art. I spent my last paycheck
from my summer job on the program. In
retrospect, it would have been much more beneficial to improve my basic skills before
I invested in such an expensive program.
Fortunately despite its steep learning curve, I stuck with using
Photoshop and learned more about the program.
The first image shown above was drawn in December 2003 and was
one of my first attempts. Originally I
had to draw something on paper first, scan it in, and color it in PS since I
was not good enough with the program to complete a drawing completely in the
digital program. I didn’t know how to
blend colors (or choose them), I didn’t know how to color over my lines
properly, I didn’t know how to shade in the program, and used the most
laughed at tools in the realm of digital art; the burn and dodge tools. Also as I mentioned above, my basic art skills were
lacking completely. The drawing itself
suffers from bad proportions, strange anatomy, poor line quality, and a weak
composition. Yet since I was just
starting out at the time, I felt like I had really achieved something and
was eager to create an even more “impressive” piece of art the next time. So I continued and eventually made hundreds
more pictures in Photoshop.
It does not escape my mind that ten years is a long time to
become even the least bit “good” at something.
Recently, I saw a post by another artist on deviantART showing his
improvement over thirteen years. The
common response was that that was a long time and thus his improvement was not
very impressive. However, learning more
about art, while fun, can be at times a frustrating and grueling undertaking
and adhering to the practice for thirteen years, in itself, is very
impressive. A lot of people quit after
some period of time because of how much work and stress accompanies the practice. Most don’t understand the amount of study and
actual work it takes to be a good artist and the learning never, ever
stops. To be dedicated to your craft,
whatever it may be enough to persistently learn and improve your skills over
many years is something that one should be very proud of. If you are reading this and you’ve been
making art for years, have some pride in the fact that you’ve stuck with something as
difficult as learning how to draw, sculpt, paint, dance, or whatever else you may study.
The years of my time drawing is not summed up by these two
images. Yes, I am better at lighting,
mood, composition, and basically everything else compared to before (but still
far from proficient), but in also in those ten
years, I learned how to paint with watercolors and oils. I learned more about the value of line
quality and thus my line drawings improved dramatically. I learned more about art as a whole. There are things that I became interested in
that I never knew existed and I have done things that I did not think were
After these ten years, the most valuable lessons I learned
were how to go about improving my practice and how to overcome the stress that
comes with the difficulty of drawing.
There is always more to learn which is what drew me to art in the first
place; the fact that there is no ceiling to your own improvement. I am much more efficient, relaxed, and practical
when it comes to the development of my abilities than I was ten years ago. That’s not to say that it is easier for me
now but there are factors that I eliminated that made my progress less unnecessarily
stressful. I let go of the belief that a
bad drawing was a failure on my part and the failure was a reflection of myself
as a complete person. I no longer hunch
myself over my drawing table at all hours of the day, every day out of some
misguided belief that my skills will deteriorate continuously the more time I
spend not drawing. I no longer compare
myself to others because everyone’s path is very different. I no longer insult myself under the guise of “critiquing
myself.” I don’t waste time trying to
be proficient in drawing everything under the sun without reference and I no longer feel the
unneeded shame in using reference material.
(Besides, how will you learn to draw if you do not observe?) I no longer have the odd belief that each and
every drawing or painting must be better than the last. Most of all, I came to realize the damage I
was doing to my self-esteem by trying to make myself fit into a certain mold of
what an artist is supposed to be. Thanks
to the many art movements and disciplines over the years, we now live in a
world very abundant with different visual styles, so much so that there is an
audience for anything. To have an
understanding that my work is my own and that there are people out there with
similar interests that would appreciate my work instead of believing that I had
to be a part of a particular artist sub-culture to be respected is probably the
most driving factor in keeping my spirits up enough to continue drawing.
As trite as it sounds, staying true to and believing in myself led to the second
image above. I still have a very long
way to go (my whole life) but I approach the challenge with optimism and joy. To be a professional illustrator is my dream
but it will not be my final achievement.
In fact, there will be no final achievement at all. Art is a lifetime companion and I am so glad
that I discovered this for myself.
To see more of my art throughout the past ten years, good and bad, visit my deviantART archive.