Most days, when I sit down to draw, I automatically go through the different projects I’m juggling to determine what needs work. I associate artwork with just “work”, with self-improvement, and with playing catch-up to the other folks who got a degree in digital arts, illustration, comics, or animation. I want to be a full-time, self-employed artist someday, so I feel like I need to work really hard in order to live up to that.
The problem with that mentality is that I end up stressing myself out instead of actually producing artwork. I make lists and plans and I research for hours, but I don’t put pencil to paper or pen to tablet as often as I would like.
I have a difficult time making artwork for fun. I grew up thinking fanart would get me in trouble with whoever punished people for breaking copyright laws, and so I tried very hard to only draw original characters. It was still fun, I think, but now I often wish I had indulged in some good ol’ fanart funtimes. Fanart can teach young artists a lot about composition, design elements, proportion, and expression, but I think the greatest benefit is having fun! I think of it like encouraging play in infants and toddlers – they’re learning without realizing it, and their primary takeaway is the simple joy of doing the thing.
I think that’s a big contributor to why I’m so stuck in this destructive pattern: I’ve lost the joy of doing the thing.
I really want to work on making artwork that makes me joyful this year. I want to have fun! I want to run around my metaphorical, artsy playground and try new and unfamiliar things, and fall down, and get back up, grinning and laughing madly, to do it all again.
I do need to hold on to some discipline, though. I feel like if I just treat art as funtimes, I’ll be tempted to lump it in with my other funtimes activities. I’ll end up spending hours playing video games and reading comics instead of drawing. I definitely do need to spend time doing those things to recharge and give my brain a break, but balance is needed.
I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but I think this would be a good one to aim for. In the coming month, I’m going to try to make that goal more defined and attainable, but for now I think I’ll give myself some time to play with pencil, pen, and paper.
Happy 2019, all! Love and peace to you and yours.