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I Want to Get Serious At Art, But Get Discouraged Easily

Hexmage-PAHexmage-PA Registered User regular
edited April 2011 in Artist's Corner
I've lately wanted to start getting serious about art again, but I keep running into an infuriating and discouraging problem.

You see, I can draw from reference pretty well. I just spent 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM on drawing people from photographs and didn't get discouraged at all. Then I tried to draw people from my imagination and ran into trouble. I nearly immediately became anxious; my palms began to sweat so much that the paper started to curl-up. I can still fill a tightness in my chest even now, almost 10 minutes later.

I think it's because I feel like I won't be able to draw anything good without reference material. I can look at the drawings I just did from reference and feel proud of them. When I flip to the next page of my sketchbook to look at my attempts at drawing without reference, though, I feel so discouraged that I just want to tear the page-out or try in vain to erase every trace of a pencil mark.

Is there anything I can do about this?

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  • WassermeloneWassermelone Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Gah stupid 'server is busy' message. I lost a rather large post I wrote up for this.

    Alright, lets try this again.

    Draw from life. Do figure drawing. Do studies from Loomis and Bridgman.

    The problem with drawing directly from reference like you do is that you are not drawing the people, objects, or scene in the photo, you are drawing the photo. You are basically acting as a human printer. Its understandable why you can't draw from imagination because you just don't have the understanding. By understanding why something looks the way it looks you can recreate it and alter it.

    So, gain that knowledge by study through drawing from life and doing studies. Just don't do it passively. Don't JUST copy what you see in front of you - think about why the arm is bending just so. Think about why the vase looks like that because the light is bouncing from the orange. Learning to draw is a very active process and you have to constantly be analyzing what you are drawing.

    Once you know how and why that arm folds just so because of the muscles and bones beneath it, then you can recreate that without the reference. And then you can altar it how you want. And alter the background because you understand perspective, atmospheric perspective, bouncing light, etc. etc.

    Drawing and painting is really a study of the way life looks. And when you know, you can change it.

    Wassermelone on
  • GlipherGlipher Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    There's plenty you can do about improving! One thing that I think that would help particularly in your case is to not worry so much about results.

    That's not to say think nothing of them - if you are serious about improving, analyzing your strengths and weaknesses is key to getting better. What you don't want to do though is assume you can get things looking great right off the bat. In the case of being able to draw people (or just about anything) from imagination, you'd do well to first understand the structure inside the head, the arm, the chest, the leg, etc. It might take a little bit of the fun out of doing things purely by imagination, but there's no other way to know how to draw a realistic anything without knowing a little bit about its basic structure.

    It's only natural to be discouraged when you're not able to get it right the first time, or the second time, or the third, fourth, fifth... (you get the point). Take learning one step at a time because if you try to bumrush it, you'll get burnt out long before you get anywhere you're satisfied with. Don't worry about the fact that you can't get it right the first time because, fact is, neither can the great majority of us. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of determination, but if you stick it through, improvement will come.

    A good step forward (especially considering that you're easily discouraged) to improvement would be to post your work on the forums, so as to make it clear where your faults and strengths lie, as well as getting advice on how to improve. This is a learning environment and we're all just here to learn.

    Glipher on
  • BagginsesBagginses __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2011
    Maybe you could try drawing from reference, but while imagining the light coming from a different direction than shown.

    Bagginses on
  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited April 2011
    man, I been working my tits off for ages and still can't draw without reference most of the time

    practice, practice, practice

    Rankenphile on
  • wakkawawakkawa Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    No matter how good you get that disappointing/not good enough feeling never goes away. Actually, it just gets worse.

    This is why we all hate ourselves.

    Any Good Artist Uses Ref For Nearly Everything.

    wakkawa on
  • SiegfriedSiegfried Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Seriously you get to a point where you are comfortable with your skills for awhile then you realize everything you know is a lie and you're a sham and a fraud so back to the drawing board (literally) you go.

    Post some work and we can see if we can help you out.

    Siegfried on
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  • ScosglenScosglen Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Drawing from imagination is its own skill that needs to be honed and developed, and as Wasser said, it needs to be built upon a solid set of foundational observation skills.

    Wakka makes a good point that personal standards for quality are a moving goalpost and you will never be totally proud of all of your work. It's part of the territory of being an artist, and you need to learn to embrace it and let it drive you forward, or it will turn you crazy and make you quit.

    Also realize that it's okay to make bad drawings. There is no bad drawing police that will kick in your door and take away your artist license. The road to mastery is paved with thousands of bad drawings. No other soul ever has to look at your sketchbook if you don't want them to. If you really can't shake the anxiety, try doing pages of practice drawings from imagination will the full intention of crumpling up the page and throwing it away regardless of how it turns out-- it will help you become less attached to your "darlings" and less wounded by your missteps.

    Scosglen on
  • kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    You also seem to have a more general case of severe anxiety from your old thread about environmental cancer causes, so I would look at treating your underlying anxiety as much as anything else.

    kaliyama on
  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    If you're sweating through the paper you may have a legit anxiety disorder you could get help for; but since I can't help you there, I'll assume you don't. It sounds like you're having trouble even getting started. I have this problem when I'm trying to draw the entire scene, perfectly, all at once.

    I take an iterative approach to that kind of block, and this is what I do:

    Sketch it in 60 seconds. Let that time limit free you from your personal expectation of quality, just run fast and loose on that shit. Now go back to the first sketch and scribble over bits that suck with slightly better bits. Focus on small regions and improve them. Now look at it again: Is it terrible?

    Fuck yes it's terrible! Throw that shit out. Start over. Do it again, but now with more confidence. Rinse, repeat.

    That helps me, anyway.

    ArbitraryDescriptor on
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