Monday, December 21, 2015

the despair of the fall of 2015 (don't worry; it ends well)

could not find original artist

For whatever reason it has been really hard for me to write anything on my blog these past months.  (in fact right now I’m fighting the urge to get up and wander around my apartment, make some tea that I’ll inevitably forget about, walk over to my mom’s house to chat with her… etc)  

 Looking at my blog it appears that it has been about 2 months since I wrote anything, and scrolling down my entries have been random at best.  I suppose it isn’t for ‘whatever’ reason but for several reasons…

This reason has been super hard for me in general.  I’ve been sick a lot, been stressed a lot, had to fight with depression a lot, just in general I’ve had a hard time.  Getting through this past semester took a ridiculous amount of energy.  About a month before finals I was totally burned out, on top of that I came down with a cold which has evolved into something much worse.  I thought I was over it but the day after finals it came back in full force.  I cannot describe it well, and besides I don’t want this blog post to be a list of my current symptoms. 

So I ended fall of 2015 completely deflated.  I honestly don’t feel like I can draw worth beans.  Sadly, I’ve not even picked up a pencil since this past Wednesday.  Over and beyond I question whether or not I can have a career in art.  Oh sure, I draw and paint better than the average person.  Well above the average person.  However, as has been brought to my attention repeatedly this term… the average person is not my competition.  People like this are:
Justin Gerad
Anne Stokes
Justin Gerard
Anne Stokes
Claire Keane
Brian Kesinger
Claire Keane
Brian Kesinger

And many many more… these are just the few that I randomly grabbed off of my list of 'artists I admire that work for places I'd like to work for'... THOSE are my competition. 

I still draw like a student.    

You might argue that that is OK as I’m obviously still a student… 

The argument could also be made that I shouldn't compair myself; because I need to focus on me and blah blah blah.  To a point that is true; but art directors will compare me and I need to be aware of who is out there.  

The problem is I only have years’ worth of classes left of school.  

 That really isn’t much.  

So why exactly am I feeling like this?   

It has to do with the particular classes I took this fall.  I initially started the semester with 15 credits.  Head Rendering, Figure Drawing, Advanced Illustration (basically a portfolio class), Children’s book, and Art Theory and Criticism.  I set up this schedule initially because I thought I’d be ok.  My son was starting kindergarten and my daughter is 3.  So I thought for some reason I could go back to school full time.   I realized within the first week that I couldn’t.  So I dropped my Head Rendering class.  Looking back, it was probably the wrong one to drop, but at the time it seemed the best choice.  If I could go back in time, I’d drop the Art Theory class.  It was a really awesome class, but it took a lot of time and outside of padding my art GPA I really didn’t *need* the class (though I loved it).  I don’t know what other class I would’ve dropped; because dropping 2 would’ve been the best thing to do.  I cannot change anything though, so I got through the semester and tried to balance 12 credits, a son in Kindergarten, a daughter who demanded most of my free time plus a slew of health issues.  

Art Theory was like any other bookish class I’ve ever taken, I read books and wrote papers.  Pretty easy overall.  Though stressful; largely because of the amount of work I had for my other 3 classes.  Figure Drawing wasn’t bad overall; I had  180 page sketchbook and assignments about every 3rd week.  Again; not bad.  The last two though… blarg.

So we’ll talk about Children’s Book first.  As you can imagine from the title we work on illustration related to children’s books… We had 3 large assignments for the class.  The first was to illustrate an entire children’s book (32 pages), the second was to do a color cover and a black and white interior illustration plus a spot illustration.  The first was to do an ebook page that was sliced up and read to be presented to a programmer.  

The ebook wasn’t so bad; but we only had 2 weeks to do it- so it wasn’t as polished as I would’ve liked.  I think if I’d had a week more to work on it I could have brought it to a much better level of finish than I ended up being able to.

many of the issues with this had to do with me fighting with my scanner and with the scanner winning... I didn't correct for the issues very well and then there were a few things I just forgot to fix.  The worst part of this critique was someone telling me how to use crop marks and that there were things that would be cropped out of the picture.  Yea; I did most of that intentionally... but whatever. 

The second assignment wasn’t so bad; I chose Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for my story.  

alice in wonderland spot illustration alice in wonderland cover  alice in wonderland interior illustration
The bulk of the problems with these lay in line quality.  There are a few issues of composition that need to be addressed... but mostly I have no idea what I'm doing with pen and ink.  Or at least I didn't.  I'm slightly more practiced now.

OH and just to put this out here: my intention in making the queen of hearts black was not in some raciest black people vs white people (as as student in my class practically accused me of) it was because I wanted the Queen of Hearts to be portrayed by an elegant woman.  I'm so sick of her being portrayed as a clownish oaf.  So I looked at tons of pictures of women from all over the globe and was captivated by this woman:
I just thought she was gorgeous.  Still do in fact.  If I were to illustrate the whole book and the sequel I'd peruse many ethnicities for the various characters throughout the book.  Because I think it would be fun to do.  Alice I'd keep Caucasian because of the setting of the real world.

I’ve actually redrawn both the cover and the interior (not the spot, I kinda liked the way it came out) I’ve not had time to ink and paint them though.  Maybe I will and I'll put up the updated versions in the next few weeks.

The project that really made my life difficult and ended up affecting the rest of my semester was the first one: Illustrating a 32 page children’s book.
I made a lot of mistakes with this one.  I mean a LOT.  So many that when I began detailing them out I wrote nearly two pages in word about them… and decided they could easily have their own blog post about them.  So that is forth coming.  Let’s just say- while I came away from that project VERY frustrated, I learned a lot.
My Advanced Illustration class led me to similar frustrations.  Though more condensed.  In that class we had the opportunity to choose our own portfolio project.  The theory being that we’d choose something we were passionate about, or at least cared enough about to make great art.  Then we would make 4 portfolio ready professional pieces.  This isn’t at long as my children’s book analysis; but long enough I think it also deserves its own blog post.  So watch for that this week. (with pictures!!)

The long and short of it is this:  I tackled some really really hard things this semester, and I was beat up by it.  To the point of utter and complete discouragement.  The critiques I got back from my professors were absolutely valid.  Everything was certainly something I needed to work on… but by the end of the semester I’d had so many negative reviews of my pieces that I just did my best on my final projects and went to the critiques stone-faced (which apparently looks like a really mean face) and waited for them to be over.  
Like I said.  I draw like a student.  And I should be WAY past that by now.  
I genuinely had a moment last week of ‘what the hell am I doing with my life, my time and my money?’  For a few hours I just wondered why I was where I was and frankly regretted like crazy my life choices that led me to peruse illustration as a career.  

 I mean I have the aptitude for so many careers; I could be graduated.  I could have a job… well potentially.  If I’d stuck to my very first major of Business Accounting from way back in the day.  (oh I feel old when I think about how many years I’ve spent in and out of college!!)

Then a friend of mines voice popped into my head.  A friend that I adore both as an artist and as an individual.  It was a question she asked me several times this semester.
“Does art make you happy?”
It really does.  
Towards the beginning of the semester in my Art Theory class my professor had us write out a 2-page paper that detailed our artistic journey.  He asked us to dive into the core of what made us want to be artists.  Not just the ‘when I was two I wanted to draw and I’ve been drawing ever since’ because let’s be honest; nearly every artist has THAT story.  So I wrote a 2-page narrative.  I cannot for the life of me find it; so I must have typed it up and printed it out without saving. (I found it; so maybe I’ll toss it on here later) I remember while working on it finding it interesting that my whole life was about my drive towards creating art.  
I love art.
I love drawing.
I love painting.
I love creating things.
This is something I truly enjoy; and the fact is that in every journey towards becoming a professional you will have those moments of ‘what the hell am I doing?’.  Those times of growth where it seems that everything is stacked against you and that you are doomed to failure.  You really only get two choices in that situation.  

 Climb up, or fall down.  

Falling down is the easy way out.
as a side note; I never understood why she chose to go down; it was dark and scary, and the place above looked so hopeful... but she went down because she was pointed that direction...
Like I said; I draw better than most people.  (not boasting; I've worked hard to get here)  I could probably get away with doing some sort of appealing work and make enough to pay off my college loans and probably not much else.  
That isn’t my goal though.
I remembered a few days ago what my goal was.
And I’ll still go through a few more bumps and bruises trying to achieve that goal; but I’ll get there.  The only person that can possibly hold me back right now is me.  I have so much support from my husband, my kids, my friends and family, and my professors.  I just need to put in the hours; (and probably a few more tears!) until I get to the level that I want to be at.

So I'll keep drawing.

princess design by me


  1. I think your art is stunning. I always have. I know you admire all those other artist.. and I'm sure I do too, but I admire YOUR work. It really appeals to me. I genuinely love it. Keep going. :)

  2. Inspiring post! I feel this way all the time about philosophy. At least the first part, and then reaffirming that I really enjoy doing philosophy heh. <3! Keep up the awesome work.

    1. I think it happens a lot; even when you pick something you love to work in for the rest of your life. Down moments happen! Glad this was relateable; sometimes I feel like such an oddball lol.