[RANT] Artwork is No Fun

You know, for the longest time, I feel like I have said that I wanted to give up on artwork. I was sick of it. I can’t really remember when this started happening – perhaps it was sometime after my first wave of wonderful online friends (some who I still think about to this day – they helped shape me into the person I am today and I am thankful for that) had ended and I was brought into a different wave. Perhaps it was because I was spending more and more time on the Internet, reading and seeing all the criticisms people get on their artwork and figuring out how to improve my own. Or, perhaps, it was when artwork stopped being primarily for myself and more for others…even if I drew it for myself.

It’s kind of hard to figure out where to start.

Perhaps I should start talking about doodling.

I have always liked doodling (specifically, sketch doodling, where I draw full characters; I think of doodling as drawing basic shapes like stars and hearts, while sketch doodling has much more details). When I started to heavily draw a lot in 3rd grade, inspired by the Powerpuff Girls, that’s pretty much all I did. It wasn’t too often I would actually colour a picture – doodling was my thing.

I easily filled notebook after notebook with sketch doodles, often in pen. Sure, the doodles weren’t perfect by any means. They were laughable and questionable and I’m sure that anyone looking at any of the ones that involved action would be unable to decipher what my 8 year old mind was trying to do.

No one criticized me about it until middle school, where one of my “friends” at the time pointed out the flaws in the heads I drew, if I remember correctly. I think I had said to her “I can draw hats” all smug like and proceeded to draw a female character with a hat, in which the girl responded a criticism I can’t remember.

It was the good kind of criticism though, that made me want to improve. I wanted my drawings to get better anyway, and her comments were enough to motivate me to do so. A few other good-kinds-of-criticisms too have come through occasionally, some from myself and some from others.

The “good kinds” are the ones that piss you off JUST enough where you want to make changes. Even if they make you initially angry, you become happy with the improvements.

I’m pretty sure artwork continued to stay fun for a while, even as I increasingly began to colour my artwork and, through my own desire to improve my colouring and drawing style, became much better.

I think it might have been around 2009/2010 when my hatred of artwork slowly started to kick in. I had done a bunch of Christmas images in 2009, 2010 became a year of “artwork for mostly other people” with a bunch of birthday images and Christmas images, 2011 became the year of commission explosion (i.e. frequent commissions), and 2012 became another year of commissions.

If I had halted in 2010 for all this “art for others”, I probably would still enjoy artwork a bit more, but no, no. That’s not what the universe wanted. The universe decided I needed to spend more time doing artwork for others, which in turn started to suck the love for artwork out of me.

I mean, maybe prior to then, it was already starting to happen, but I don’t remember being so sick and tired of artwork! What I was sick and tired of though was saying on the sketches I posted that I would “colour them soon” and never colouring them…which got me to do this project that started in…2011, I think, AND ENDED IN 2013.

This project was the “roulette” project that I posted about before. I think the idea was good – it was a great way to make sure I could be active on deviantART (among other places) AND get more artwork done for myself! Super awesome idea, right?

Turns out, not really.

That stupid back catalog quickly reached past 50 images, which all required me to line them and colour them.

Cell shading didn’t take too long, and I like cell shading (it’s easy), but then there’s my Painted Dreams style which can BE AN UTTER PAIN SOMETIMES and a hit or miss in colouring.

Then there was handful of them that needed BACKGROUNDS too, which probably was a semi-good thing. I got better at forest backgrounds, which…is good?

Everything else sucked though.

Ugh.

Thinking about the back catalog – which was posted too quickly, to be honest – is just flaring me up in anger. The worst thing is, I was going to do that again. I actually have ANOTHER back catalog sitting in my folder, just waiting for me to finish it.

At first, I was upset with myself – just look at all these pretty pictures that will never be finished.

However, I took a step back and thought, you know, it doesn’t matter.

I’m sick of artwork.

It takes up too much time and I don’t find it fun anymore. I mean, I love doodling when I feel like it, but lining, colouring, the whole shebang? NO, I HATE it.

I would like to colour some of the pictures in my new back catalog – particular, finish all of the Kelly’s Journey ones, but that’s about it.

I guess what I’m trying to get here is that when I did the back catalog the first time, I claimed it was for me, but it turned out…it wasn’t for me. It was for deviantART. It was for my deviantART page, to keep it active. Some of my favourite drawings I don’t even dare to post up there because I feel like they might chase people away from my page.

When I draw artwork, it is no longer for me. It’s no longer for myself. It’s as if sacrificing all that time I could have been doing pictures for myself, but doing them for others has changed my artwork purpose and has made me unable to enjoy it.

I can still draw commissions, but when it comes to my own stuff, all I want to do is shove it aside and not touch it, thinking about all the artwork I still want to colour some day, but have no motivation to do so. I remember how much anger I have towards doing artwork right now.

I think the worst thing about this too that I have fear related to my artwork, some criticisms/comments I have received.

The example that pops out into my mind was that a friend asked me if they could point out something wrong with one of my artworks, I told them yes, and then they pointed out the hand was too big. This was something I was VERY much aware of and it was a conscious decision not to fix it – I was honestly doing the artwork to a.) get it done, b.) post up on deviantART to keep it active, and c.) for colouring & background practice. Primarily a & b though. They were dumbfounded by the fact I would say this and were confused by it, then went on to explain that when they see something like that for their own artwork, they had to fix it. Afterward, I felt like after that piece of artwork, I had to fix mine.

Not necessarily for improvements (though, I’m sure that has happened), but because I was afraid that comment was going to come up again.

I don’t want to hear more people point out a flaw about my artwork I know is there and chose to ignore because I don’t really care or don’t feel like focusing my attention to it right now.

I’m sure that’s a good thing, however, I don’t think the fact that it’s a fear is a good thing. It makes me scared, it makes me angry, and it makes me want to close down all my art accounts and never-ever show my artwork to anyone ever again.

The other fear, that much of my anger is connected to, is the question “why didn’t you finish it” and numerous similar questions/comments. I have actually written about this before and still to this day, it makes me burn with anger and sadness. It’s the fear of this question and the fear of similar questions/comments that makes me think twice about posting a picture, for what I feel are the wrong reasons.

I feel that the “right reasons” to think twice about posting a picture would be the content (is it appropriate for site you’re posting it on?) and if there’s glaring errors that you suddenly take notice of.

My reasons, the “wrong reasons”, is the fear of people asking me “why didn’t you finish it” or commenting “you should finish it” when I see the image done and not wanting to post it for the potential comments I could get ABOUT not “completing” it in THEIR eyes.

I think that’s the difference – where I see a complete image, people see an incomplete one. If it’s not inked and coloured, it’s not complete to them. I can’t have a pencil image splashed with colour or a single pencil image shaded in, no siree…even if that’s how I want the image.

My brain divides my images into different “categories” for colouring. Sometimes, how I go about drawing them will determined if/how they are coloured (regular black mechanical pencil V.S. my coloured mechanical pencils; former will stay in B&W or will get a splash of colour; latter will have full digital colour). Other times, it’s determined on the type of drawing (concept, doodle, piece to be completed, etc.) or a certain focus of the drawing (such as I simply want something quick to do that does not stress me out). Don’t ask me why it does it – it just does. I find it works well for me and keeps me happy.

What does not keep me happy is when I decide that a sketch doodle, shaded in with pencil, is a 100% completed drawing and is great enough to post, I get bombarded with the question “why didn’t you finish it” and the related comment, “you should finish it”! I want to throw myself onto the floor, curl up into a ball, and cry, it hurts so much!

IT IS FINISHED.

THE PICTURE IS FINISHED.

COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY FINISHED.

You do NOT need to ink and colour an image to have it completed!

YOU DO NOT NEED TO INK AND COLOUR AN IMAGE TO HAVE IT COMPLETE.

UGH.

I had this brilliant (or maybe not brilliant) idea of playing a video game and turning it into a comic, starting with The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and the fun part of it was that I was going to replace the main character with myself, much like the Pokémon Nuzlockes, except I’m not adding challenge to the game and just retelling my experiences. For at least the first comic, I plan(ned) to simply just sketch the images and shade them with pencil.

No inking (traditional or digital) or colour involved.

Just a simple sketch with pencil shading.

Why did I decide on that?

1.) I wanted the comic to be something I could produce quickly and put out quickly. Assuming the script is already written, sketching, shading, type setting, & the single colour overlays for each chapter would easily take me an hour and a half to complete.

If I even added inking of any sort, just add on another hour.

If I added colouring onto their, forget it, add on another hour and a half for EACH character on the page, PLUS an addition two to ten hours for the backgrounds. (And note all these times could go up depending on the colouring style and amount of details!).

Inking and colouring isn’t quick at all, which goes completely against what I decided.

2.) I wanted something FUN to do.

Sitting at my computer for five hours to fully colour a page is not fun.

Especially when there’s a lot.

3.) I wanted something that was going to give me little to no stress. Again, it’s suppose to be something fun and something quick. Inking and colouring is NOT something fun NOR is it something quick for me.

I figured too if it’s a comic with fun pictures, even if they’re imperfect and messy, combined with some hopefully good writing for something familiar people can connect to, people…probably would enjoy it.

However, just THINKING about even a FEW people (I have them in mind too) asking me why I didn’t “finish” it or telling me I should “finish it” in an attempt to encouragement (only to have it back fire) makes me not want to put it up.

Even if I say a billion times the reason why I don’t “finish it” by their terms, I’ll still get the question.

I honestly wish I could just go back to not caring about artwork. I want to get back to doodling, only colouring when I feel like it, only doing artwork for others when I feel like it, not fearing what other people are going to think, and I wish I could feel the creative freedom with my pictures that I once felt, even if they were ridiculous.

I am glad for my artwork improvements. I’m just not glad for the attitude change that I feel has done more harm than good.

I’m actually at the point right now where I feel like if I really, truly wanted to, I could quit doing artwork. Perhaps not the doodling, but the whole shebang of inking and colouring. I usually hate doing those, after all, and I find very little benefit in them right now.

I hope one day the fear and anger disappears and it’s replaced with confidence and happiness to go through with my ideas, even if my definition of “complete” is different from others.