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About Traditional Art / Student Ken19/Male/United States Group :iconwhyt-manga: Whyt-Manga
Grow to become a Great
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Artist | Student | Traditional Art
United States
Current Residence: Hutto,Texas
Favourite genre of music: Japanese Rock/Pop
Favourite style of art: European Comics/ Manga/Anime
TL;DR, guys!
This one's really personal and kind of rambling, but the ending has a huge revelation for me that took a long time to finally understand.
I'll bold the really important points if you want the highlights, but I hope you can find something here that resonates with you! 

I remember using my full capacity draw almost everything.

  As a child, I would draw without needing to know all the rules and laws of art, and when I reached the limit of my knowledge on a particular area, I would either ignore it, or learn something new. Visibly improving was always the best part, because I had reached a new limit and could draw better. 

  But in high school that all changed.
  As a freshman, I had come to art class full of confidence in my skill due to all the fun, hard work I had put in. It was a blast getting to show all that I had learned on Deviantart about penciling and composition and whatnot. In fact, I even did a realistic pencil rendering of a wolf! I painstakingly rendered every bit of fur on it even though it meant turning it in late. I was firing on all cylinders back then, running into roadblocks learning new skills, and applying them almost immediately. It was works like these...
Fish Hunter by SaigoNakisage 

...that I created in the full capacity of my skill. Even NOW their quality surprises me! And they were both done on copy paper!
I mean there are mistakes, but I remember being completely deliberate in the creation of each one of the lines in those pictures. The first one is my favorite, because I was inspired by One Piece to do it. I had almost no concept of perspective back then, but managed to pull it off by applying a principle of composition I had just learned called Unity. That's why the fish and the boat create a circular shape. I even remember sketching concept images for the guy's pants and practicing the technique for the highlights on a different page. The color on it was done solely by colored pencil, which was all the color media I had at my disposal at the time. But I didn't worry too much about media, all I needed was a vision. It took me a long time to complete, but you know what colored pencils taught me?
You need patience to see a good work to fruition.
I'd heard it before, but I didn't understand until I had done it myself.

  During my sophomore year, we got a GREAT art teacher, who would actually work on her art during class!
But the class also became more serious all of a sudden. Now, our work would go towards a portfolio if we wanted to get into a great art college. We had to be really, really good to beat out the other contenders, and the thought excited me greatly. 
  Our teacher showed us examples of the level of quality that would get us scholarships into good art programs, and while my classmates and I were all pretending to be scared, I thought to myself, "All right then, now that I see the bar all I need to do is create a higher level quality of work and I'm in. Easy."
Or so I thought. 
Literally as I write this, I realize that this was the point at which my outlook on art shifted. This exact point.

  See, 'cause before, I was just having, fun and "showing off", without showing off at all (I was never outwardly proud, nor did I shove my work in anyone's face). I was talented, but also backed it up with skill which made for a powerful combination. But suddenly, there were constraints.
Now there was a time limit, people to compete against, and a reward at the end, if you worked hard enough. I pretended like I wasn't scared, when truthfully, I might have been the most scared of all.
While my peers were happily creating, I was studying, and studying and studying. I had just picked up watercolor and it felt great to learn. I found all these resources online and was always trying out new techniques and watching Youtube videos. The trouble didn't come until after my first finished painting:
 It started out looking like crap, but by trial and error and the skills I had picked up along the way, I made it into something that amazed everyone and even my teacher. But most significantly it impressed me. And THAT'S where things took a turn for the worst.
All of a sudden (in my mind, at least), I now had an "image" to maintain; a standard to uphold. I knew, subconsciously, that I would get better and rise to the occasion, but I shot myself in the foot when I told my classmates (albeit, jokingly), "Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is as good as it gets. I don't think I'll be able to do that twice". Thus, I let myself become scared of producing anything less than that quality of work.

From then on I became more precious with my abilities. I became more self-conscious of my work. Thoughts like, "Will they like this?" began to surface and haunt me day in, day out and I started to produce less and less work, and even sketch less passionately. I always felt like I was working for someone other than myself and my output reflected that. I started to even hold back from using the whole of my mind to draw like I used to. I think I became afraid of surpassing myself; something I used to do naturally (something all artists do naturally). I'm not sure how to explain it, even now. 

Over the next 3 years...
  • ...I began to feverishly read tutorials rather than actually applying them. I'd treat my work as a test instead of playing with the art form. Due to my impatience, when I actually did draw I only used about 60% of all that I learned online. I just wanted to get the work done, so I could make the grade and not fail (which I almost did twice) and that was the worst feeling of all. I wasn't doing it for myself anymore. I became so precious with my work, I would produce at a snail's pace compared to my classmates, who created often and failed often and thus, succeeded where I failed. While I was mentally competing with them and with the the examples shown at the beginning of the year, they were content to just play with art. Meanwhile, I would just be satisfied with the compliments I would receive at my watercolor studies from photographs, and just say, "I'm working up to something big, so don't worry." Whether to assure my teacher or myself, I'm not sure. Maybe I paint myself a little too negatively in those days when it really wasn't that bad. It's just my current mental outlook on that situation. I was always stuck in my head as a teen. 

  •   The inspiration I used to get from other artist's work turned, not into jealousy, but into an addiction. Before, the artwork I saw would inspire me to draw better, because I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, I could reach the same level one day. I used their work as something to aspire to. But as time went on, this subtle addiction turned against me. As I saw better and better artists and drew less and less, the gap between my skill-level and my perception of their skill-level grew, resulting in a subtle decline in my confidence. In response, I read more and more material, hoping to fill that gap. 

  •   Looking at all these other artists' sketches and complete work, gave me the false impression that they had done it perfectly on the first try, which in turn, made me impatient with my own work. Eventually, I would use tutorials as an excuse for not actually doing art. I became addicted to immense wealth of knowledge the internet had to offer and without the wherewithal to focus on a singular thing in this deluge of information. I'd gather more and more tutorials until I had 40 tabs worth of knowledge a day, and end up learning only %10 of the info, retaining 5%, and bookmarking the rest for "later", which meant I was unlikely to ever go back to that information.
 My mind became scattered (without my realizing), and my actions became less purposeful. I was busy, but made little progress in anything. The learning which I thought would give me the most progress actually ended up slowing me down because I used it inefficiently. 
  •   When I looked at other people's success (Zen Pencils, Bryan Lee O'malley), I began to feel like my own success was something outside of my reach; something I wasn't inherently born with. Evidence to that fact is instead knowing success would eventually come, I started trying to force it. Hence the some of the sub-par work you've seen from me. I felt like I had to post something, so it was mostly "meh". Some of it was good, but I felt like the attention I received would validate my efforts, instead of just being happy to create. Before long, I was comparing other people's success to my own, by looking at their Patreon pages. 

  •   There was also this underlying sense of guilt, that I couldn't pinpoint until recently, about my level of skill earned from years of "playing" with art. It seemed so effortless at the time, that when I got older, I started to get vague feelings telling me to start all over and work hard like I was "supposed" to; the "right way" of going about things. And because I felt like I lacked knowledge (that I actually had obtained) I subconsciously held myself back from doing my best and made myself believe that I knew better just because I read a tutorial on the subject. 

It's because of this mindset that I put so much importance in transient matters, and unconsciously postponed the creation of great artwork, because I'd subconsciously taught myself to put my work on a pedestal, in hopes that others would too. I put more focus in trying to create a fanbase instead of producing work that was great to ME and letting other people come to see it. Before this, I would even make Youtube videos without much fear of how bad I'd sound or even if I had anything important to say;
I created fearlessly

Even now that I accept that I'm just a naturally creative being (like you), it's still pretty difficult to deprogram all my previous negative thoughts about myself and my work. But it's always a learning process. 

  I'd read articles about perfectionists, but I didn't truly understand that I was one until I felt the exact opposite of that feeling. A few weeks ago, I was shocked back into that feeling from childhood. I was able to catch a glimpse of the former confidence and patience that I had, before I was worried what everyone else thought.
  It was a time when had a sense of wonder for things unseen, instead of this horrible, cynical feeling that I had seen it all. I remember some of the most fun I ever had was when I was drawing what I learned from Pappy Drewitt in Kindergarten! Man, those were the days. I'd see it every morning before school and would draw everything I learned in our Morning Journal. Like trees and animals and stuff. I was always delightfully surprised to find out about stuff like Yugioh, Pokemon, or new cartoons in general, which meant new inspiration to be found in them. I was more attentive in those days because if you missed it on tv, you wouldn't likely find it in it's entirety online. There was a rarity about them.
I feel like that is the sense I'm returning to these days when I see new stuff from France and other countries.

The feeling 

As I said, a few weeks back I reached that feeling of pure creation again, and all I drew was a skull in perspective, and a pair of lips. I don't know what triggered it, but I do know what emotions flowed through my mind at the time: 

I was using the WHOLE of my knowledge to draw. I was calm and relaxed and not drawing for anyone but me. I wasn't worried about showing it to others, and I didn't care if it took an eternity to draw, because in this pure state of creation, I was eternally patient. I knew in my heart that I would master my art; my vision, just as I had always known. But in this state, there was no rush, no thought of pleasing anyone but myself, flaws and all. It reminded me of that childlike confidence I used have, but now with the discipline of a growing master. I think this is what they call FLOW.

Just from those 10 minutes of drawing, I stayed in that wonderful state the rest of the day.

...and proceeded to lose it the next!!!

But the fact that I was even able to touch it once more, meant that I could do it again. Even if it didn't last very long. I feel like I was meant to go through the rough period, just so I could reconnect even stronger to my childlike confidence and wonder of art. When I'm having fun and, I'm focused. I produce my best work even if it comes out slower. I don't put it up on this pedestal; I concept a little, then produce the best work I can with my current skills. 
And I am truly excited to see what I come up with next as I connect more and more with that unlimited side of me.

But now, as I close, I remember the single most powerful formula that got me almost all of my skills:
I would see the vision, then use every bit of my skill to bring that vision to life.
Simple as that.

It didn't matter what tools I had, I would find a way. If I couldn't match it on the first try, I would try a hundred times more, just to get it right. I was consistently drawing from a culmination of all the knowledge I had acquired, and would build that skill-base higher and higher, by experimenting and playing with it. That was basically the essence of my progression. 
  The opposite of that was my accumulation of knowledge without experimentation. This resulted mostly in doodling, my drawings without a vision in mind. Rote memorized lines that I would draw on autopilot after I'd spent so much time getting them right. I would then pass them off as finished work. My high school mindset was to get it exactly right, the first time, so I could eliminate the need for multiple trials, thus saving my (self-created) "image" and my time. I was stressing about how to learn and accumulate knowledge, and feared the trial & error process. I forgot something that I used to know intuitively; that failure is essential on the path to success. The only reason I strive to be so good is to share my vision with greater clarity.  But I'd convinced myself that by high school I had failed enough, and thus convinced myself that I had gotten this art thing down pat, thereby deleting the option of failure. I didn't want to fail anymore, so I shunned the very thing that had given me any semblance of success.
And with the understanding that I've gained from writing all this down, I can now move on.

The process of reversing this damage may be slow, but now that I know my fundamental starting point, I can stop worrying, creating addictions, or obsessing over success, and just have fun with it and LOVE my craft, which to me, is producing the highest quality work I can, through a long series of mistakes. 

Thanks for reading :D

Journal History


General Marley by SaigoNakisage
General Marley
Practicing more with american comic style; mainly in the face and legs.
147 deviations

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deskridge Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2015   Digital Artist
Thanks for the :+fav:!
GrandSACHI Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for faving my last chapter of The Adventurers! :)
StyxTwig Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015
May17 2015 FavStampTHanks by StyxTwig
SaigoNakisage Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
No, thank you for thanking me! Now I got a neat pic in my comments :D
StyxTwig Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2015
Leuname-X31 Featured By Owner May 14, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
:pc: Thanks 4 the fave! :D
SaigoNakisage Featured By Owner Edited May 4, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
noodle-survivor Featured By Owner May 4, 2015  Student General Artist
Hey there! Thank you very much for the favorite~! ^u^
SaigoNakisage Featured By Owner May 4, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
You're quite welcome! :)
Jovan-Ukropina Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thanks for the fave! :) Nice gallery!
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