"Barbara", charcoal on paper

When I look at this drawing I did last week, I feel a mixture of satisfaction and disappointment. Satisfaction because my drawing skills have come a long way, and disappointment because I see subtle drawing mistakes. I also see the charcoal isn't getting the soft effect on the paper that I'd like it to, and I didn't quite capture the mood on the model's face that day. This disappointment motivates me to keep trying because I know with continual practice, I will someday achieve the look I am striving for in my work as long as I keep working towards that goal.

These days I am starting to rethink my goals. While I still believe personal discipline is healthy, I also believe it is ok to accept what I can do right now. This drawing doesn't look quite the way I want it to and is not perfect. It is the result of everything I have learned and experienced up until the moment I drew it. This drawing is a representation of who I am right now...which is the whole point of expressing in the first place.


Joe said...

hey julie
this is another great post of your insight...i was reading it and was hoping you'd say something i have been dealing with lately but it was the polar opposite...rather than competitiveness it seems like i lean toward doing nothing...thinking alot...looking at a lot of things and sort of sending myself into a downward spiral incompetence...failure makes me want to do nothing...but as i'm writing this it seems like that's how i keep myself from trying harder...so i don't end up going there...and now i'm realizing that it's exactly a form of competitiveness...

does the mood of the model in the drawing reflect your own at the time? it's interesting where and when we decide to influence an expression or mood in a drawing or piece of animation through our own feelings or what the model or character is telling us they're feeling...

great post as always...


Scott O. said...

Self competitiveness does help to keep you on your toes and strive to be a better artist. However, I've found it to be almost self-destructive sometimes... where I think I suck so bad that I almost want to give it all up!

I guess it's way better than the opposite, when artists fall into the trap of thinking that they know it all and become absorbed in their own world. I think that Chuck Jones become guilty of this in his later years...kinda getting lost in his own hype so everything ended up being kinda weird.

Hmmm... I guess I have no ultimate point.

Julia Lundman Midlock (Julie) said...

Competitiveness is so much a part of art, it's crazy. People never talk about it but we all know it's there. When literally ALL your friends are artists of varying success, it's hard not to compare your work to everyone else. Some of us compete with ourselves, some compete with others, some of us look at everyone else's work constantly and can't shut out what everyone else is doing. It's so much pressure that it's amazing any of us get anything done at all. It makes us neurotic and and obsessed.

That's why I wrote about this - because for me the competitiveness only gets me down in the end, so I'm trying to just realize that I have to accept that what I'm doing right now is fine. I'm not giving up, I'm just trying to relax a bit.

I think Joe, that is what is going on. You probably have something very specific in mind at the start, so you feel failure when it doesn't work out to be what you envisioned. Because of that, you don't want to face "failure" again, so you don't feel like animating. What you have to try to realize is what you did is already really cool and is a result of everything you know and that's a good thing, not bad. And at the same time, it's that far off unattainable vision we are all reaching for that keeps us going...it never ends.

Being an artist is seriously a certain kind of torture, I'm sure of it.

boob said...

Julia - fantastic work here first off. Some might say "real art" compared to the silly cartoons and doodles some of us do :)

The competition and constant feeling that we (artists) live our work 24 hours a day is something we all face and handle differently. It's so strange to think other professionals can leave work at the office but when I go out to eat I'm thinking of how the light bounces off the face of the waitress, the shape of the negative space the gasoline pump shadow makes on the ground, and how I'd loathe to be an architectural artist drawing the winding stairs in perspective at my neighbors house. Constantly in my brain.

And the unspoken competition. Then there's that.

I've never really had a problem with these issues per se. I know they exist but I live my life by the simple idea of just doing what you love. For me, art is about the experience for me as the artist and the reaction of my audience. I love experimenting, I love the output, I love doing - the only one I need to please is myself as selfish as that sounds. Art is so many different things and sometime after college I realized it doesn't have to be perfect. So much of what I like to do with my art (cartoons and animation) is centered around my childhood. A time, a mindset I wish I could truly capture again. Things like competition weren't really in your head during kindergarden. You did art when you were so young because you loved to color with your crayons, because it was fun, your brain was active, imaginative. I know it's near impossible to contain that innocence forever but it's something I shoot for.

I'm much older now and I'm surrounded by so many fantastic artists. It's inspiring everyday. That's how it feels to me. I don't really strive to be the best, I just want to get better and challenge myself. Because what good is it being the best? Will I get famous? Even the most famous artists/animators I know are hardly famous. Will it make me rich? Art is not a career for people that want to be rich. I could be perfect and every line I lay down would be great but for as many people that may admire my work there could be just as many if not more people hanging elephant scribbles on their wall. Art is completely subjective.

Just gotta do what I love to do. Maybe some people will like it and I can share it with them.

Sorry to babble Julia. Not that you were looking for advice, but maybe I've helped? Regardless, you raise some great thoughts. I'm always intrigued by the psychology of art. I consider art a success when you've caused someone else to think. You've definitely done that :)

Julia Lundman Midlock (Julie) said...

Thanks for your comments, Boob. :)

Well at least for me, art isn't really about being famous at all - it's about wanting really really badly to acheive a certain look I fell in love with long ago at whatever cost it takes. I'm finding as I get older that my view of what I originally wanted to do is changing and my work is more meaningful to me overall. Before it was more about getting there someday, now it's more about TRYING to enjoy the process and expressing more of myself instead of emulating a style.

Anyway, there are plenty of famous artists...some rich, some not. Success sometimes is a bad thing for an artist, like my friend Scott O mentioned in his post about Chuck Jones. Artists get weird when success hits them. It makes them think they're god's gift, which makes them strive for less and in turn makes them less creative. Success isn't everything, looking inward is.


Julia Lundman Midlock (Julie) said...

"Some might say "real art" compared to the silly cartoons and doodles some of us do :)"

oh and btw...i'm a HUGE fan of cartoonists and animators. Silliness cuts way deep to the truth and is more fun anyway. ;)

Kevin Barber said...

Excellent drawing and excellent reflections. Great point. I have a hard time letting go work myself because i never feel i quite "got it right " with each peice of work. The moment i think i'm done i see a thousand things i coulda , woulda , shoulda done different.The struggle comes with excepting that , and accepting that particular peice for what it was. A learning experience.However,...i have found that having some time away from the peice and then seeing it again down the road you realise,..."Hey , this wasn't as bad as i thought it was."