I'd like to open up about something I struggle with often. It's been especially relevant since the beginning of the shutdown in our country and from having lots of time in isolation. It seems our demons all come out when we are alone, but maybe we don't have to face our boss battles alone!
To give you a little background, I'm didn’t arrive at SVSLearn as a beginner. I went to art school for 6 years. I'm not going to make this topic about weighing the pros and cons of art school. What I do want to say is that school fed a lot of negative energy that I'm still dealing with today. That's what a lot of this is about.
When I applied for school, it was like the Pokemon theme song - I wanted to be the very best. I went to a highly demanding, highly competitive figurative arts program because, god damn it, I'm not going to illustrate until I paint like Sargent and draw like Anders Zorn. I had very high expectations of myself and by the time I left I was complete burnt out and bitter. I wouldn't pick up the brush in earnest until about 4 years later. The other qualities of school didn't help either - infighting between students for awards, lack of any real measure of growth, but again.. I'm not going to get into that today.
Fast forward to today and it's a different situation. I work fulltime and I'm trying to reconstruct a studio practice in the moonlight. I don't have a cohesive portfolio and I'm learning a lot of new techniques, so I'm spending a lot of time on personal work.. but I also want to be ready to hit the ground running so I'm challenging myself to get faster, get more work done, be better, and.. You see what’s happening here? I'm starting to set expectations on myself again and they eventually become destructive. I want to break that cycle this time.
Part of what I picked up in school is that to be successful you have to be disciplined. You have to sketch all.the.time. You have to have the entire human musculoskeletal system memorized. You have to work every single day. I did this and it didn't work. In fact, I learned a hell of a lot more on my own after I'm left school, when learned to let go of my reference, loosen up, and start looking at the drawing more instead of the subject.. I enjoyed drawing much more. Alot of the school mentality is well engrained in my work mindset. I still don't know what really works.
(by the way, I love SVS so far. It's very different than my experience in school, if you are wondering)
I guess what I really want to know, is how have you figured out your own self expectations so that you can see see your own growth as an artist but maintain a healthy relationship to your craft? When building a portfolio, how do you find ways to challenge yourself with meaningful projects? What are the habits that have helped you the most?
Thanks for reading this. Peace!