Finishing Drills for a Chronic Dabbler.

  • Hi everyone,

    As someone who struggles with "let's-explore-forever" syndrome, it is hard for me to bring a single idea from start to finish. I have been inclined to get really nervous and quit, and many ideas have died that way. Over the past few years I have come to realise how damaging - and unfortunately common - this is with artists, and I wanted to create this little thread as a way to urge those of us who fall under this category to get finished work out of our system(s) using common deadlines and accountability.

    I am doing this to push myself out of my comfort zone where I have been known to hide and thumbnail/sketch/doodle/explore and otherwise meander to death, and get used to going through the entire process of completing an illustration on a regular basis. This habit has been damaging to my self-esteem, since I cannot say I have actually finished personal projects.

    I am taking into consideration some great advice given by creative minds on this front:
    Jake Parker's "Finished, not Perfect," Seth Godin's advice on finishing and shipping work, Peter Mohrbacher's advice to finish about 4 pieces a week, etc.

    My personal drill in this thread will be to:

    1. decide what personal work (series or stand-alone picture) to work on and why,
    2. chronicle my process during the week,
    3. post at least one final piece in this thread every Monday.

    Today, I start with an almost non-existent portfolio since everything lives within the pages of my sketchbook, and there's a fire lit beneath me to put in consistent work to change that around.

    If anyone else has identified this as an issue they would like to tackle and would like to be kept accountable in the process, please feel free to drop by and post here as well!

    P.S. If you have read this far, sorry for the spiel, and let me know what you think. πŸ˜„

    Edited to add: "Finishing Drills" is a soccer practice reference - definitely a nod to the frequent sports analogies used by Will, Jake and Lee. It's super endearing that they do that. XD

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @animatosoor I think it is a great thing to make yourself accountable and set deadlines. I did this for my new years resolution and I am still sticking with it. I said every Monday I will post either a painting I did over the weekend or a full illustration depending on what I am working on during the week. Full illustrations take longer then a week for me so I will usually do two of those a month. One of those is usually for the SVS contest. Then I Friday I post one of the horror paintings I am doing for the 100 something challenge. In the end I should have two pieces each week. Maybe not the best work but it sure is helping me finish as well as grow my style.

  • Hey!
    @animatosoor you're on a good track! Making yourself accountable is definitely a useful step but I'd be wary of setting the bar too high from the beginning. A finished piece every Monday seems a lot to me but then it depends what you mean by "finished".

    I wonder @Chip-Valecek if you have tips for sticking to your challenge? I've done once a 100 days challenge with animated paper crafts and felt so tired afterwards that I've never done another one!
    Well I guess now my problem is with step nΒ°1 from @animatosoor, deciding what personal work I should be developing...

  • @Chip-Valecek It's really commendable that you're still sticking with your New Year's resolution! And you're right - full illustrations can take longer than a week to complete, and it makes sense to finish two a month instead.

    @Chip-Valecek said in Finishing Challenge for a Chronic Dabbler.:

    Maybe not the best work but it sure is helping me finish as well as grow my style.

    It's interesting how it works out, actually - when we set out to do a challenge like that, it really does help us finish and evolve our process/style, even if, as you said, we may not be happy with every single piece we create during the challenge. It seems to have a long-term benefit where we leave with a newly-formed habit of creating and finishing things regularly.

    It's great that you're already doing these things! I am hopping onboard this week.

  • @marine Hi, and thank you for your input! You're right about setting the bar too high with the "once a week" goal, and that might have to be revised at some point. As far as what is meant by "finished" - I guess in a way that does depend on where we are with our skill levels as well as our intent for each artwork.

    For me, if I decide mine will be a finished black & white drawing, then that's what I would post on some Mondays, while on most other Mondays I might go for full-colour and as fully rendered as my current skill level would allow, since that's a weak area for me.

    As for deciding what personal work to work on (step 1), would it help to make a list of the kinds of content you will need to include in your portfolio, that might currently be missing? I believe Will, Jake and Lee have given pointers on this matter in both their SVS classes and podcast. Will has also touched on this in some of his earlier YouTube videos. These resources really did help give me direction as far as step 1 goes.

  • SVS OG

    This is a great idea!! I have suffered from this too so completely understand where you're coming from.

    Writing up a weekly practice schedule on a Sunday night for the coming week has really helped me stay accountable. I don't necessarily always stick to the practice "topic" I had planned (because sometimes they run over for a few days) but I do tend to stick to the duration I've set for myself so it's good that way!!!

    As for finished pieces, my focus is more on practice at the moment but I experience the same difficulties as you with that. In one of the podcasts, Jake talks about consuming more than you produce. I found I was watching a tonnes of tutorials but then not practicing the techniques I'm trying to change that now.

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @marine the biggest for me is not spending to much time on one thing. Then i get burned out. So maybe one weekend I will do three different horror pieces while working on a full illustration. Then on a Sunday I will do a quick character for fun. I save them all and just post one on Monday and horror on Friday. By doing a bunch at one time when I am super inspired is better then doing one every week and getting burned out. This way when you have a bunch done and you are not wanting to paint then you can relax.

  • @Chip-Valecek I like that ideal of having a couple different styles going at once. That’s a keeper, thanks!

  • @ShannonBiondi I'm always impressed when I hear from artists who stick to the time they've set aside for creating. Kudos for doing that! As for practice time - it's probably really normal for topics to overlap and and overrun the set duration.

    Same here with the tutorials - I was so guilty of that as an art student! I was still guilty of that up to about last year or so. :face_savouring_delicious_food:

    Sometimes I really wish I could go back in time and smack myself upside the head.

  • I'm going to get the ball rolling and start on this week's idea: "Toy Demon." The first two images are pages from my sketchbook, and the third is the beginnings of a digital sketch based off of the same idea.


  • SVS OG

    @animatosoor Haha! Totally!! πŸ˜ƒ The beauty of hindsight, right?

  • @animatosoor

    Sounds good. I struggle with finishing but also well rendered work. I have 3-4 series work I plan to work on during the summer to stretch my Enviroment Design muscles πŸ™‚

  • Thanks @animatosoor for the suggestions. I have definitely a full list of things missing in my portfolio! :smiling_face_with_open_mouth_closed_eyes:
    Thanks @Chip-Valecek , it is a really good point to work on different work at the same time to avoid getting burned out!

  • @marine said in Finishing Drills for a Chronic Dabbler.:

    Thanks @animatosoor for the suggestions. I have definitely a full list of things missing in my portfolio! :smiling_face_with_open_mouth_closed_eyes:

    Hahahah, you and me both!

    Let's fill all of those gaps. It'll be an ongoing thing, I believe.

  • @ShannonBiondi Lol, yeah! :face_savouring_delicious_food:

  • @Heather-Boyd My struggle is exactly the same. I have gaps in my knowledge when it comes to rendering, and I find myself floundering.

    All the best on your series! I suppose they would feature environments in a dominant way?

  • @animatosoor

    Yeah small character for the most part and larger Enviroment around.

  • I'm in the process of reworking my Mermay entry as a black & white illustration for my portfolio, and,


    • also working on this in colour!


    Any feedback would always be welcome!

  • My progress so far on Toy Demon. If anyone sees this and has any words of advice on rendering issues, I would really appreciate it!


  • SVS OG

    @animatosoor looking good! is the focus on the red toy or the green creature? I'd say right now, both are getting equal importance (atleast for me πŸ™‚ ) I think you will have to reduce the saturation of either the toy or the green creature.

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