Discussions, critiques, and advice on art

Existential Art Crisis

I feel like I've been stuck in an art rut for like... forever. :/
So much so, I actually feel like my art decreased in quality???

Part of the problem is for me that while I enjoy drawing, I've little inspiration for characters or such. Most of the time when I draw it's commissions on avatar sites... and I only do those during the 2 months per year when I can be motivated to be active on one.
Between then, I don't draw a lot.

Another part of the problem, I feel, is that in some ways I get stressed about the commissions I do. I've only been doing PWYW for a bit now, because I feel like if I put up samples of a style, there's a good chance the art I'll end up delivering will be sub-par or the style will change or whatever.
So doing PWYW is an easy way to deliver something I'm not 100% happy with with the backup that the recipient can adjust their payment accordingly.

But even while I'm not drawing a lot myself, I am of course consuming art in some way. Be it by looking at other art shops or just browsing tumblr or instagram.
And often I'll find an artist and style I really dig and think, damn, I want to draw like that! And atm that's often art that seems so simple from looking at it but when trying to draw inspiration from it, becomes clear that it's not simple but just really refined in it's style and it's not at all easy to draw from it in a satisfactory way that is similar but still my own. Often because the parts that are "my own" are really annoying me.

I'm desperately trying to claw myself out of it right now, but uff. Spent the last couple of days just drawing faces. Sometimes one turns out in a way I like it, but then I can't even replicate my own work!
I'm hoping once I figure out faces again (or at least one type of face for the start, i.e. females :P) I can work towards figuring out bodies to work with that, since often once I do get a nice face going, the body will look wrongly proportioned and uff.
I'm also trying to do a lot more traditional sketching atm as opposed to the digital art I normally do, since I currently don't feel like I can really work on the style digitally? Like I'll be too bothered with trying to find a perfect brush setting or whatever and can't even focus on the just of it all.

Overall.... very frustrating :(

Have you had art and art style crises before? How'd you manage to work through them?

Re: Existential Art Crisis

Most definitely, sometimes I go without doing anything art related for like 3-6 months.

Not drawing things for myself is the main reason. I rarely offer free art or commissions because I just don't enjoy drawing for other people unless I spontaneously decide to do it. It makes art feel like a chore, like i'm tied down and I can't draw anything I want to draw until I get this one thing completed.

For me, the best way to get over that is tell myself its okay to scrap this painting I've worked on for a month straight, its okay to scribble an angry cloud over this ink work that I've spent 8 hours trying to perfect. If i'm not happy with it, why am I wasting time on it? Sure art doesn't look perfect at any beginning stage of drawing and does require consistent editing and correction until its how you want it to be, but if its not improving and is a lost cause thats when I walk away and then return and make my decision. Am I wasting time on something that doesn't make me happy?
Because thats what art is to me, its my happy place.

I used to look at art better than mine and be like, why can't I do that? I want to draw like that? But then I realised that that artist probably spent years and years trying to perfect that style and theres no way in hell I'd currently be able to achieve that. I'll take inspiration from it and then i'd leave. Because I can't do that now, but who's to say I can't do that in a couple years time?

The more I think about a drawing the more I struggle to complete it. Sure its not working out now, so i'll move on and maybe try again when i'm more positively motivated by the thought of it.
I have two sketchbooks. An A3 and an A4. If you see me draw something on the A3 I was excited by that drawing from the very beginning. If you see me draw on the A4, I wasn't too sure about it. And I probably scrapped multiple other drawings before getting to that one.

When I'm really struggling for ideas I browse stock artists on Deviant art, mostly Senshi Stock. She has a lot of creative poses. Half the time I sketch the body and then progress no further. But browsing is a good way to nudge ideas into existence on how you could potentially use that pose creatively.

Sorry if this is a wall of text D:

Re: Existential Art Crisis

Firstly I also love Senshi Stock. So much of my art comes from her poses. Other than that though, I totally understand not working on art for other people. I'm actually on hiatus because of it. I wanted to work on a project for a friend and just got overwhelmed with anxiety and depression with every drawing I worked on. It sucked so hard that I had to take a step back and put my drawing pad up for a while.

Re: Existential Art Crisis

I don't have a problem drawing for other people on principle cause like... it seems to be the only way I ever get practice? But I noticed that in the long run, I get scared of the expectations? UFF.

What you're saying makes a lot of sense to me, @ivydoodle. I actually kind of had a bit of a good moment today where I was looking at work of artists I'd strive to draw like and thought to myself that most of the time we only see the finished product someone creates. I see the beautiful image uploaded to instragram. I don't see the sketches that lead up to it, the lines that were erased or ideas that were scrapped altogether. So it's wrong to hold myself to the standard of that for every piece I do for practice?

I've kinda gone ahead now and figured I'll try to challenge myself a bit more again. Like I got to this point where I was so frustrated, I wasn't really trying anymore? I wasn't happy with my lineart, so I stopped doing clean lines and kind of try to cover it up with a fancy sketchy brush...
Today I sat down, took some inspo pics from other artists, tried to work with what I liked about it and then I just kept doing lineart thinner and thinner each time. I've got this stupid thing where I like clean and "simple" art, but when I do clean lines they feel dead to me? So I gotta work on that and get over it rather than avoiding it.
Then I looked at some painting vid on youtube and saw how huge a canvas the person was working with, whereas I typically use like 800x800px and then the art only fills a small part of that at times.
So now I took the same lineart from before, blew it up a bunch and am now back to redoing the lineart thinner but on a much bigger scale.
I'm not hating it so far. It looks clean, with room for improvement in terms of steadiness of the lines, but still, and stylised but not dead.

Once I've figured out faces again, I definitely need to learn to do fullbody studies and just dive into Senshi Stock. I've used their poses for references a bit, too, but still feel like I was keeping it mostly safe and I just need to try and power through it.

Definitely feeling a bit more positive about it all today at least.

Re: Existential Art Crisis

To give a small update to this :joy:

Since Mid-November, I've been uploading art more or less regularly on instagram.
Before I mostly put stuff up on tumblr, but unless it's fanart, that's like screaming into the void in terms of feedback and resonance.
I'm not exactly blowing up on instagram either, but I'm getting a steady-ish 1-2 followers per new image and generally 20+ likes. So within 3 months, I now have more followers there than after years on tumblr. Wow.

While I'm not going to base the worth of an image or myself as an artist off of this feedback, it's much more encouraging than getting nothing in return and I've drawn more for myself in the last few months that I did in the years before. It's still a struggle, but I'm forcing myself to get something done almost daily at the moment, without the pressure of it being for someone. I try to do 1-2 #drawthisinyourstyle challenges per week and otherwise kind of try to go with the daily tag themes to not have to come up with things completely out of the blue all the time.

Not sure how it'll keep up if I ever get into avatar sites and having an art shop there again, but we'll see.

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