Struggling... anyone else?
2019 was a hard year for us. Probably one of the hardest we’ve been through. And we’re still trying to come out of the fog of it. I’m really thankful for Will and Jake sharing their struggles over the podcast. It was definitely a year of change and loss and moves. Everything Will said about losing his art for a while after his wife died struck a cord with me. It’s not been easy to pick up a pencil at the end of a long and physically/mentally/emotionally exhausting day. I managed to do a Slowvember piece and a couple other things but my daily habit has fizzled away. I’ve backed off of Instagram and even had a period of time when I needed to suspend my account. I’m trying to get myself up out of it all and get back into a routine again. I’m thinking about doing the new guided curriculum at SVS. Maybe it’ll help hit the reset button. Any one have any other suggestions? I’m really thankful we made it through and I’m hopeful that 2020 will be a bit more peaceful.
xin li last edited by
@Pamela-Fraley I am so sorry to hear what you have been through during 2019. But I am glad you stayed on Instagram - I am a big fan of your work.
I recently came across an article from Brainpickings (a blog on book reviews mainly), about... well... I guess self-care, life and well being, which I found uplifting for me. I hope you will find something in it which is meaningful for you too.
And I am glad you are here in SVS forum.
Pamela, I'm sorry for your year, even not knowing the details. I appreciated the struggle part of the podcast as well: A lot more awful things happen to people than they talk about publicly. Sometimes they can't if they wanted to, because it would compromise someone else's privacy. So you shouldn't feel the need to pretend everything's fine or feel down on yourself because you have to take care of basic needs instead of charging ahead in your work. Do what you need to do to process your exhaustion bit by bit, because that's what will help you get going again in the long run.
I also see that you have 5 kids, which of course means you get interrupted all the time even when things are going well! Life really does come in stages, and there were long periods during the kid stages in which I didn't do a whole lot of drawing, if any. Maybe it's not fair to think that women are usually the ones who do most of the child/home care, but it's still reality for a lot of people, and taking care of a family is important work.
Now, specifically about drawing: While there are times when emotional priorities make drawing hard to impossible, it is also true that the steadiness of drawing can help settle emotions. Don't put pressure on yourself, but just do the drawing you think you can do that day (if at all), with as much regularity as you can. For instance, if you don't have the concentration for a big brainstorming/thumbnailing session, do something you think you can do, even if it's just doodles and exercises to keep in shape. Doing the curriculum might help, but that also depends on what your artistic needs are. Your work should push you so that you feel you are learning, but gently. You might want to do an evaluation of where you are artistically at the moment and what your needs are and what you think you can realistically do. Then do it, even if only for a short time each day to build the habit. Small steps do accumulate, and you'll know when you're ready for more challenge.
One thing I've heard people say that was helpful to me is, don't compare yourself to others, but to where you were last year (or two years ago, etc.). This may not be helpful to you now if you could work before and have had to take a break, but it might be helpful a year form now if you start rebuilding your drawing habit slowly. It might not feel like you're doing much day by day, but when you look back, you see that you did indeed make progress, and that can be just the thing to keep you from a counterproductive level of frustration.
Also, don't succumb to the pressure to post regularly to Instagram if you're not ready. (It sounds like you've already figured this out!) The comparison monster is always out there and will try to short circuit your brain! Just do what brings you satisfaction at the end of the day, knowing that maybe you will enter into a more productive stage later in life.
I have been through some very difficult years during the past decade, which I can't talk much for the sake of others' privacy. In fact, I started drawing again a few years ago explicitly to regain some sense of steadiness and control. I hope that one day I can be a professional, but if I don't get there, so be it. I would never choose to go through the same situations again, but when I look back, I also see the beauty, consolation, and emotional growth that have come out of them.
I hope that you can find a routine that is helpful for you, and remember, a lot of people do understand! Thanks for being brave enough to bring up this subject and remind us all that there are a lot of different situations on the other side of our screens.
Thanks for posting this! It's really lovely! I especially like #4, which is quite underrated in modern society.
IgorWoznicki last edited by
I am sorry to hear this year has been tough for you. Sometimes that's just life, ya know? I've been through some struggles and artistic crisises in 2019 as well...heck, I am pretty sure 90% of people on the forum were, if not all of them.
While hard times are unavoidable, try to think of them as a trial of some sort. Afterall, when you've fallen, the only thing you can do next is stand up! It may take a week, it may take a year, but you WILL eventually pick your butt off the ground. Hopefully, this will happend soon.
As for me, even though I am only 22 and my serious art journey started three years ago, I've hit rock bottom a few times, lost the track of my good habits, just like you did and generally lost the joy that came with the act of creation. What has helped me (annnd has helped me recently) was reseting myself!
I took a step back, looked at my goals and plans, then I did some thinking, I reshaped my goals, wrote down some new ideas and ways to achieve them and came up with a brand new plan of attack. Then, I changed the way I organise myself and the way I work! I did research on how other people organise their time and manage their tasks, I tried new ways of doing that and formed brand new habbits, ditching the old ones enitrely. It's not that those didn't work, I just needed a new way of working to keep my mind fresh.
After I figured that out...I took two weeks off, read two books, played through the entire Jedi: Fallen Order game and did a toooonnnn of cooking and then I applied all the new ideas and routines into life. It felt like I was REBORN.
So if that makes sense to you, I'd highly suggest doing that If you feel like you had hit a wall.
To put it into one sentence: Give yourself a little break If that's possible and then reshape your goals, change the way you organise and work, at least a little bit, modify your morning routines and see where it takes you.
Oh, and the whole social media thing...I think everyone should listen to Adam Duff on this one.
This video has really changed the way I think and honestly, I am MUCH happier now...
Sending you good wishes! If anything changes and you get back on track, please let us now. I would love to hear from you in a week or a month from now.
@LauraA thank you so much for the encouragement. It’s good to know I’m not alone in all this. I figured there was at least a few people in this amazing community who would get this. I wanted to share it because sometimes it can seem like everyone else is moving forward, plowing through the classes, doing the monthly challenges...And, it’s slipping away from just me. I know that’s not true though.
And, yes! Being a mom is pretty all consuming even on the good days. Most of the time I only get to draw when everyone is in bed for the night, but, they are precious to me and definitely take priority right now. I also need to make sure I’m taking care of myself so I have something to give them, and that’s been really difficult lately. Both my husband and I are utterly drained. But, I feel like the clouds are starting to part a bit.
It’s also a good reminder to look back and see what I’ve accomplished. I know I’ve grown over the years even if I’m not where I want to be. At this point I think I just need to set some realistic goals and aim to keep my pencil in my hand. What you said about just drawing what I can that day is perfect... I just need to let go of feeling like I have to regularly produce something I want to post on Instagram. It’s okay to be where I’m at right now, and I know it won’t always be this way. I’m also, weirdly thankful for this season. I feel like it’s been growing us as a family and deepening things. I hope that it translates into my drawing and storytelling and makes it all a bit truer and richer. ️
@xin-li thank you! I need that. I will read that article today for sure. Self care went completely out the window this year and it makes me feel like I’m losing myself. Most of my New Years resolutions have to do with gaining some of that back. My sister is helping by jumping in on things like yoga with me. And, we decided to bring some of our close friends in on our struggles and have found so many open arms and people willing to sit in the broken things with us.
Thanks for your encouragement. I love your Instagram too!!
@IgorWoznicki thank you! All of that is really good advice. I feel a little lazy that I’ve taken a break and been plugged into some audio books, but I think maybe it’s okay to do that every now and then. I hear people saying “if you wanted it more, you would muscle through...” But, realistically, sometimes life just plows you over. I do like the idea of being willing to reorder everything. Different seasons mean having to adapt and create new ways of working. I’m a little late getting my planner this year, but I’m hoping to spend a good chunk of time setting myself up with a good and reasonable plan once it gets here.
I’m adding that link you put up to my watch list!
This little sketch was probably my most honest and vulnerable piece this year. And, as unplanned and quickly done as it was, I love how simple and true it is.
Coley last edited by
Hi Pam, just wanted to say I struggle sometimes too. I kinda felt like making a post like this that you started back in November. I lost a friend who took her own life. We're all so sad, it was seemingly out of character, but she was amazing. It's better to share the struggle than endure it silently. So even a post like this that you made was a good step. November was super hard and early December too, I just started thinking about little things like eating a little better and exercising a little more, started thinking about what I was grateful for and I also started doing little random acts of kindness that helped too.
I only have two kids and it's hard. So give yourself lots of breaks, either physical or just cut yourself an emotional break too. Raising kids is the hardest thing I've ever done and there's sooooo much room for feeling like your sinking or not doing a good job but no one is perfect. I have two teenagers now so all my faults are pointed out to me daily now LoL. It's tough but I soldier on and enjoy the good stuff.
I did hear this podcast/interview today and it's really excellent, it sure made me understand some of those struggles more that women can have. You might enjoy it. I hope you start feeling better soon!
@Coley I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. I agree with you that it is better to put struggles out there than it is to go on in silence. Sometimes it feels like complaining. And, sometimes it feels like maybe we’re just making things up in our head. But, it’s just a lie that keeps us from real connections with people. It breaks my heart to hear stories of people who kept it all to themselves until it just ate them up. Makes me very thankful for all the little communities we have found. I’ll put that podcast on my list of things to listen to!
Also, I have one teenager and I’ll have another one in July. Some days it’s great and others, not so much. I joked with mine about getting them some score cards to hold up, you know? Just to make it easier for them to tell my husband and I how they feel about our performance in any given moment.
Coley last edited by
@Pamela-Fraley That thought that you mentioned, about feeling sometimes like you're complaining is exactly what she talks about in the podcast! Especially near the end of the podcast I think. She also wrote a book (I know it's hard to listen to podcasts and read books with kids!).
that score card thing is great lol. I actually have great teenagers, and at the moment it's only one who figures he knows it all lol. But actually he is extremely level headed and a fantastic kid. And sometimes he is right (ouch). I guess we gotta grow as parents too.....
ColbyGreen last edited by
@Pamela-Fraley I know how you feel, 2019 was a rough year. I wont go into too many details but part is the usual "I'm trying to work as an illustrator for one of my jobs and folks don't see it as a real job" shtick. As far as life goes though you just have to keep looking forward. Keep drawing, include your family if possible, and most importantly go at your own pace.
There is something I like to say in regards to this, its sort of my mantra: We are all on the same road of life. Some folks are further along and some are behind us, but the folks further along are there to help us as we are there for the folks behind us. The best part of this road is that the destination doesn't matter, we are all on this road together.
DaveLeekArt last edited by
Hey @Pamela-Fraley ,
Thanks for this post. It’s very humanizing to see that we’re all similar and go through a lot of the same emotions, frustrations and difficulties as each other. With that said, I would just like to remind you that ‘struggle’ is common and ok. Art and creativity don’t work by always being ‘on’. Inspiration and drive come and go and in my experience it’s just best to go with the flow. Listen to your inner voice and when the time is right, run with it and create all kinds of beautiful work. When the time doesn’t feel right, take some time to yourself to focus on other areas that bring you happiness. There’s a natural ebb and flow to this stuff. Ups and downs. Keep your head up and tackle it all one day at a time.
As for the SVS curriculum, I think that’s a fantastic idea to spark some new motivation and drive. I’m doing the same thing. Not to get out of a slump but to inject some direction into my often confusing path of mastering my craft. So now you know at least ONE ‘classmate’ who will be doing the curriculum alongside you:)
@ColbyGreen I think the “going at my own pace” thing is the part I struggle with. I want to go at someone else’s pace... someone who is actually accomplishing something.
That’s a good word though. Thank you!
p.s. one of my boys is named Colby. ️
@Bricz-Art I’m glad I’ve got some company. I’ll try to post when I get some of the assignments done.
Thank you for the encouragement. This community is so amazing.
BichonBistro last edited by
I'm sorry for the tough year you've had(and for everyone on this forum who has experienced similar struggles). I don't have any words of wisdom, just empathy and hope that 2020 will bring some serenity and space for you to continue creating beauty in your unique voice. You know how much I love your work ️
NelsonYiap last edited by
Hi @Pamela-Fraley you're not alone. 2019 wasn't so easy for me, but we all have our way of processing what happens. I took some time off Instagram. I haven't posted in a few days and it's fantastic. I'm going through Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" which has been really grounding for me. There's a concept there called the morning pages which are 3 pages of journaling every morning, stream-of-consciousness stuff. It's been pretty helpful.
I think one thing to remember is that you don't have to make art every day. If you don't want to draw, then don't draw. Of course it's nice to achieve that, but you could do something else creative instead. Like go for a walk, read a book, or write something. There's a lot of pressure out there for artists and it's not really fair to put more on yourself. And if social media is getting you down then just disconnect. Cold turkey. Others have written about self-care too and this is super important as well. I hope this year is better for you and everyone here at SVS
@BichonBistro thank you Patty. And thank you for the Christmas card you sent. It definitely made me smile. I know we’re just in a season right now and I’m thankful for it in a way. I know it deepens the work we do when we go through hard things. And, I’m slowly starting to pick up my pencils again.
@NelsonYiap you are right. I think I fall into the trap of thinking I’m giving up on my dream if I don’t work at it no matter what. But, honestly, sometimes life just plows you over. And it’s not wrong to let yourself feel that. I figure I’ll become more consistent at things like Instagram when I have the space for my art to be an actual career, but I’m gonna let myself be a student for now. And, yes! I have been filling my creative bank account with books and things. And even some outside time. Though, we live in Alaska and it is COLD! I do sometimes just sit with a cuppa tea and let myself stare at the trees around our house. It is very peaceful and filling to do that.