Frustrated! Anyone else ever go through this?

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  07 July 2013
Frustrated! Anyone else ever go through this?

Howdy folks. A couple weeks ago I sort of hit a wall in my artistic progress that I can't seem to get around, and I wanted to gather some opinions/talk to other artists and see if they've ever experienced the same thing.

So I've put in a lot of time learning my fundamentals. I feel pretty comfortable with perspective, construction, anatomy, values, etc. but whenever I try to draw something straight from my imagination I freeze up. I feel really comfortable drawing something that's right in front of me, but I really want to learn to come up with my own concepts/illustrations. I'll start drawing some shapes, give them some volume, but then I always lose confidence around there and decide "No, that's going to suck." Then I feel like I have no idea what I want to draw, and I even start to question what I'm even trying to DO with my artwork.

Has anyone ever experienced this? What'd you do to get around it? I very much appreciate any responses.
 
  07 July 2013
First of all, how long have you been studying/practicing art seriously (by serious, I mean prolonged, focused learning and practicing, at least a couple of hours or more each session, and at least 12+ hours a week if you have a full-time job/school, and at least 28+ hours a week if you don't).

I'm asking because one of the most common problems I've noticed while teaching art, is how grossly the students underestimate the amount of time, energy, passion, discipline, and tenacity it takes to become a good artist. Many start to get impatient after filling up a couple of sketchbooks, and seem to think doing a few dozens of drawings of something is enough to master it. They have no idea that it takes thousands of failed drawings/paintings and years of continuous study/practice to become a competent artist. So if you are just starting out and haven't really done any serious artistic development, then just be patient and stick with it.

As for hitting a wall in your artistic development, you have understand that improving at any endeavor is not a straight ascending line on a graph where you steadily become better at a consistent rate. In reality, the graph will look far more erratic, with long periods of flat lines (no apparent progress) and then sudden steep climbs for a short period, then flat line again for a while, and so on. It takes a certain amount of accumulated insights and experience for a person to suddenly hit a point of revelation and then jump forward, and then he has to take the time to accumulate the next level of insights and experience before the next revelation hits.

Regarding working out of your head, this is related to the first part I mentioned. If you haven't gained enough knowledge, experience, and skill, then of course it's going to be hard for you to work out of your head. But since there's no link to your portfolio, I can't really tell what level you're currently at. If you provide a link to your work or post some images, it'll help me assess your current level and give you advice on what you should be working on.

If you don't know what you want to do with your artwork, then you need to take the time and think seriously about why you want to be an artist in the first place. Too many people are simply in love with the idea of being an artist instead of actually loving the process of creating art. Also, too many people confuse their love for other people's art as the love they feel for their own artistic endeavor. You have to make sure you actually love creating your own art, and the process of doing it, including how hard it can be and how frustrated and helpless it can make you feel. Be sure that you want to do art for the right reasons.

Also, think about what you want to express with your art as a human being, not just a mindless artist who just want to make pretty pictures. Do you have emotions you want to express? Do you have stories you want to tell? Do you have sociopolitical dispositions you want to convey? Are there moods you want to portray? Think about what fascinates you, what makes you sad, angry, happy, what poignant memories you have from your own life experiences, scenes from books you love, your nightmares, your daydreaming fantasies, the various "what if" questions you've ever asked yourself. Those are all great sources of inspiration for ideas to use in your artworks.

These are just some of the things I have my students think about in the first week of the workshop I teach here at CGSociety (it's linked below in my signature). If you take some time and really think about what I mentioned seriously, you'll discover many things that you have overlooked or haven't explored yet about yourself and your hidden creative vision. There's so much more beyond this basic stuff, but I think it's enough to get you started.

Last edited by Lunatique : 10 October 2013 at 02:24 AM.
 
  10 October 2013
I just came across this thread, having also reached an inspirational brick wall.

Reading your response Robert, I think you hit the 'nail on the head' as far as I have been concerned. I'm in love with the idea of being a great artist, but the reality is I don't have the levels of commitment required to get the skills needed to reach your kind of standards. For this reason I gave up trying to make a living from CGI/VFX some years ago, despite becoming good enough to get repeat business from a variety of clients.

In a way this has freed me, so I can now just persue a creative idea in my own time and I'm not trying to please anyone other my own satisfaction of having created something from my own mind. But now I have run out of ideas for things. Your last but one paragraph has given me some avenues to look down. Just wondering if there any 'stand out' books that you have come across recently that have inspired any waves of creativity??

Thanks
 
  10 October 2013
Originally Posted by stevecullum: Just wondering if there any 'stand out' books that you have come across recently that have inspired any waves of creativity??


I think just about any genre fiction would be filled to the brim with interesting scenes you can illustrate. I mean, the film/TV industries are constantly adapting books and creating TV shows/movies with very compelling visuals, so you can do the same with just about any book that you personally enjoyed. It can be sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller, historical adventure, etc. What books do you personally love?

As for the books I personally found to be inspirational for visual storytelling, I usually only care if the writing/story is any good, and the visuals aren't important at all. The last book I really enjoyed was Nabokov's Lolita (amazing writer). A lot of the book is like a road trip, so it has some imagery of America as seen by travelers. The scene where Lolita runs away and Humbert searches for her frantically, and the last scene where Humbert carries out the murder painted very atmospheric images in my head.

There are books I didn't really like all that much, but had great imagery in them, such as Wool (post-apocalyptic underground bunkers).

The books that were just filled to the brim with amazing imagery aren't the ones I've read recently. For example, Neuromancer is one of the most imaginative books I've read, but I read that many years ago (and again a few years ago). Snowcrash also had amazing imagery, as did Diamond Age.

One of my all-time favorite novels is The Road, and that's already been made into a movie (although the ending in the movie is too Disney-fied compared to the book). Generally, it's better to avoid picking books that's already been visualized by other talented people, so you can explore your own visual world.

Season of Passage had some great horror/sci-fi visuals.

Wizard's First Rule had some very nice fantasy visuals, and doesn't really rely on the big epic battles that's been done to death in fantasy.

There so many more. I think anyone who's an avid reader would have a long list of books that's created compelling imagery in their mind when they read the books. You probably have your own list (if you're an avid reader), so which ones did you find very inspirational visually?

Last edited by Lunatique : 10 October 2013 at 03:31 AM.
 
  10 October 2013
Quote: Too many people are simply in love with the idea of being an artist instead of actually loving the process of creating art. Also, too many people confuse their love for other people's art as the love they feel for their own artistic endeavor. You have to make sure you actually love creating your own art, and the process of doing it, including how hard it can be and how frustrated and helpless it can make you feel.


Definitely. If there was one piece of advice I could give every aspirational artist, it would be just that.
 
  10 October 2013
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