Overloaded and out of fuel?
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Thread: Overloaded and out of fuel?

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    Unhappy Overloaded and out of fuel?

    Lately, something has been bothering me that I'd like to share and discuss. I know I haven't posted a whole lot on these forums and now I'm willing to fix that. Here goes...

    Not a day goes by when I don't think about art, creativity or my working habits. However, I'm getting less and less actual work done I'm constantly just THINKING about doing things while I should actually be doing them. A temporary block or a mild burnout? I have no idea. I have been doing a lot of 3d for games this year while at the same time attending life drawing & painting.

    I'm constantly observing my surroundings. My mind is constantly wandering around art and the fact that I should be doing it. It's like mental constipation. I can't get started doing anything. My oil painting setup is beginning to gather dust. Is it just fear? Am I intimidated by something? Am I just lazy? Do I not trust myself enough? Do I compare myself to my peers and fellow artists too much?

    I love visual storytelling. I want to do character design and conceptual art. There's nothing else I could imagine myself doing as a living (well, other than in-game art, aswell). Yet I can't seem to muster up the motivation, the drive or the energy to actually start doing real, constructive work. I do study a lot of theory, books, tutorials and the sort. I've also been to many drawing and painting classes in the past and I'm constantly seeking for more courses around my city.

    Lately I've been trying to follow an organised schedule that I devised. After almost two weeks I've noticed that on many occassions things don't go the way I'd originally planned. At all. Unexpected things happen all the time. I sleep until noon despite going to bed early. There's paperwork that needs to be done. I've managed to do around six hours of work or other work-related things in a day.

    Anyone else been in a similar situation? Any thoughts? Am I just being silly or overthinking?

    Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by s1gnal View Post
    Am I just being silly or overthinking?
    Yep.

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    Er, stop thinking, start doing?

    Normally I'm a fan of thinking, but in this case... yeah. You might be better off just doing a lot of good old fashioned mindless doodling or something for a while instead. Go make random stuff without worrying whether it's "good" or "productive" or anything. Get your hands dirty just for the hell of it. Make something crappy. Make a mess. Revel in it.

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    quantity not quality

    whenever i get mental block i think its important to just doodle and not follow schedule or organised ideas. Breaking free from block can happen easily when you just draw, focusing on quantity and not quality, just get stuff down and keep moving, dont stay precious, dont even think about whether it is useful or good, just start another.

    to get going again, just start at the point of least resistance, then once you're back into it, pick up an idea and get going in more depth. Broad strokes to fine strokes!

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    My room? My entire appartment is just one room, 28 square meters.

    I've got my oils and a small table easel set up on a table in a corner, if that's what you're asking. I know it sounds a bit stupid, but I actually find it difficult to start painting, knowing how much money I've spent on the supplies.

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    If you're feeling paralyzed and paranoid about wasting supplies that you've invested a lot on... get some cheap stuff! Get a really cheap newsprint drawing pad or something similar, and that way you won't feel like you're wasting materials that cost a lot, and it might help you feel more like it's OK to make mistakes and toss it out when you're done.

    Another thing you can try doing is setting aside a sketchbook specifically for fun things or doodling where you give yourself a free pass no matter how bad it is or what you draw. That way you can try to separate your really serious studies and still have a place you can feel relaxed about drawing without the pressure.

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    There's no Art Foundation Police that will chase you when you decide to do some mindless doodles once in a while. Even if you know a lot about technical side of painting/drawing, there will always be the feeling that you have no idea what you're doing. It's sometimes good beacause you can take yourself in terms of art to places you haven't been before.

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    There's nothing else I could IMAGINE myself doing as a living
    This is really quite a common problem with people early on in anything. I can't imagine not being and artist, actor, football player, whatever. Doing this thing professionally is about the same thing as doing anything else professionally and it's "doing".

    Simplify what you are doing. Keep painting at the minimal level as in; use little color and almost draw with it by adding and wiping away. Simplify everything even your schedule. I've seen it happen a million times (well that's an exaggeration) where ambition is too big for the work ethic. The all you can eat syndrome. Simplify and build your ambition with your work ethic. Think of walking not getting there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by s1gnal View Post
    I've got my oils and a small table easel set up on a table in a corner, if that's what you're asking. I know it sounds a bit stupid, but I actually find it difficult to start painting, knowing how much money I've spent on the supplies.
    Oh for pete's sake, stop being precious about this stuff! Art supplies are there to be used, just use them. After a while you'll stop thinking about the precious, precious material you're using up and think about what you're painting or drawing instead (I should hope, anyway.)

    If it helps, get cheaper materials to start with, like Amarok says. Heck, even cheapjack tempera on bristol paper will work for practice. As long as you're painting something, it's better than nothing.

    And the same goes for the art you make - don't get precious with it. It doesn't have to be perfect, and depending what stage of learning you're at, 99% will almost certainly be throwaway crap. As it's been said around here over and over, you have to get the bad art out of your system in order to get to the good art. And you can only do that by making lots of bad art.

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    Cheapjack? Is that a brand Queen? A little softer than cheapass.

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    What? Totally valid colloquialism! Even the dictionary says so! (But with a hyphen.)

    (There did used to be a used clothing store once called "Cheap Jack's", for what that's worth...)

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    See even my old cheap ass can learn something new.

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    if you're serious about working in the industry, you HAVE to get over this. Right now there are people who are naturally talented and working super hard all the time. They are your cohorts, companions and competition down the road. The future you will loathe the you of now for wasting precious time on self imposed artistic imprisonment. Aside from that, the industry is very, very demanding. You will be required to work during these moods and, often, work many, many hours past the standard 40 hour work week most people enjoy. You have to love meeting this feeling head on and subsequently beating it's ass. You have to wonder how people can even feel this way when you're so obsessed with creating that you can't find the time to question the act itself. Personally, I suggest relentless observational study. It doesn't require as much of a creative notion or intent and it's definitely just as important as ideation for any artist, especially the student. Just look through your work, point out what you suck at and recreate those things from real life observation. Rinse and repeat, with a side of creative expression to turn simple knowledge into actual understanding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by s1gnal View Post
    I'm constantly just THINKING about doing things while I should actually be doing them. A temporary block or a mild burnout?
    Neither. Simple procrastination.

    Just sit down and doodle. Does not matter what you doodle at first; it's just easier to slip into the right mode if you are actually in the right situation. Once in the drawing mode, switch to whatever you need done, or just practice.

    Another good thing to do in such a situation is limit the current projects. If you want to do twelve things at once, you'll never do anything. Pick one or two running projects, and the rest just write down as plans and file them for later. It is easier to pick up a project that's sitting there and waiting, than to try to choose one of a dozen attractive but abstract ideas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by s1gnal View Post
    Am I just lazy? Do I not trust myself enough? Do I compare myself to my peers and fellow artists too much?...
    You are the only one who can answer this. Be completely honest with yourself. Look into those dark places that most people try to ignore about themselves and see who you really are. That's the only way to find the problem. You have to find it to fix it.

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    I have had this problem and I know how to fix it, for me at least I know it works but it might end up working for you too I hope. What I do is I don't expect myself to draw something grand or even good or I just don't expect anything, I just scribble incoherent shapes and values on a canvas in photoshop without thinking of all these things one should think of when making art - that get's me started to at least use a pencil or brush. Then I start seeing shapes and automaticly gets interested and switch on my "art brain" and thereby I start on something. Strangely sometimes my best pieces comes out of doing this because I don't expect myself to do something grandiose.

    And yes it is over thinking, especially when you find yourself laying in bed thinking of stuff like this when you should have been asleep several hours ago. Just relax and take it easy.

    Last edited by LORD M; June 23rd, 2012 at 08:55 AM.
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    I had this problem, and it went away (mostly) when I forced myself into the mindset that I'm not just doing this to become 'pro' or 'masterful.' That's just a long term goal, but it's not my only goal. My biggest goal with art is to just improve and to enjoy what I'm doing like I did when I had no clue WTF I was doing when I just started. I love improving and the romantic idea of sharpening my skills constantly.

    Sooooooooo, when I changed my thoughts from "I GOTTA BECOME PRO GOTTA GO FAST" to "Hey, I'll just try my best to improve and have fun with it" I learned to just enjoy the process. Enjoy the mark making -- even if it's awfully off or not. You have to enjoy what you're doing, not just the lengthy goals you have set out for yourself. Enjoy the present, don't just wait around for the future to smack you in the face because it won't if you don't learn to enjoy it right now, or at least start trying to change your mindset. Bill's advice is gold here -- and the advice he gives weekly is very, very good however obvious it might be. Some of the most obvious seeming advice is the best.

    Work ethic is something you build up, and it's nothing something you can just change in a day. Just keep at it if you really think art is for you and heed some of the advice in this thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by s1gnal View Post
    I love visual storytelling. I want to do character design and conceptual art. There's nothing else I could imagine myself doing as a living.
    The world is full of telemarketers and cashiers who couldn't imagine being anything but a ballerina or an astronaut. Imagining isn't enough. There's no way to learn to make art that doesn't involve actually making art. And stop being so goddamned precious about your supplies. Using them isn't wasting them, spending money on them and not using them is wasting them.
    TL:DR: Either do it, or don't.


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    Yeah, I agree, it sounds like plain old procrastination. You fill your days with meaningless errands so you can avoid failure or having to deal with uncertainty. I'm a terrible procrastinator. (In fact I'm procrastinating RIGHT NOW.)

    You can use the same tactics for art procrastination as for anything else, like avoiding exercise or procrastinating at work. Identify what actual productive work is. Make it easy to do art and hard to do unproductive but important-seeming things -- put your sketchbook on your keyboard or keep a sketchbook in your bag and leave all other time-wasting devices at home or make them annoying to get to. Join an artist activity or group in your area or online so you have someone to be accountable to. Keep track of your productive hours so you know how much time you're REALLY wasting. Set simple goals. Make your work periods short so it's much easier to start.

    If you're aware that there's a problem you can take steps to fix it.

    And now, because it's 11, my acceptable time for procrastination has run out and it's time to Get Things Done. I'll be back at Acceptable Procrastination O'Clock.

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    Thanks for the replies so far!

    I know I sounded pretty damned stupid and no doubt made an ass of myself earlier. A lot of the stuff like not using tools and materials because they're expensive is something that's stuck deep in your unconsious mind and once you manage to put the problem into words, the problem boils down to something very uncomplicated. It's funny how quickly you just forget simple important things like sketching aimlessly when your head is wandering around a dozen or two different tasks.

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    I watch this video sometimes when I get stuck. It's very smart.



    And the not wanting to use materials because they're expensive? I've suffered that too and it's still a little hard to get over. One solution was to get materials of various quality and then use certain ones for specific purposes. Nice paper is for high quality, detailed stuff. Okay paper is for random sketches/doodling/studies. Tiny sketch paper is for short life drawings/doodling. That way I don't really feel as though I'm blowing all my nice big paper on stupid noodling.

    And of course, just adapting the mindset that it's only materials. You can probably get more in the future.

    Last edited by Reutte; June 24th, 2012 at 08:25 AM.
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    When the itch to do overcomes the fear of doing you'll get back in the groove. Or you won't, some folks abandon ship for fear it might hit something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sourgasm View Post
    if you're serious about working in the industry, you HAVE to get over this. Right now there are people who are naturally talented and working super hard all the time. They are your cohorts, companions and competition down the road. The future you will loathe the you of now for wasting precious time on self imposed artistic imprisonment. Aside from that, the industry is very, very demanding. You will be required to work during these moods and, often, work many, many hours past the standard 40 hour work week most people enjoy. You have to love meeting this feeling head on and subsequently beating it's ass. You have to wonder how people can even feel this way when you're so obsessed with creating that you can't find the time to question the act itself. Personally, I suggest relentless observational study. It doesn't require as much of a creative notion or intent and it's definitely just as important as ideation for any artist, especially the student. Just look through your work, point out what you suck at and recreate those things from real life observation. Rinse and repeat, with a side of creative expression to turn simple knowledge into actual understanding.
    could not have said it any better.

    i know there is going to be times when i dont want to draw. or i feel like nothing i make is any good. or my girlfriend is crying to me over the phone while i am dying to just get back to my painting.. but these are just weak excuses to put off something you SHOULD be doing.

    you need to just stop thinking so hard about it. your wasting valuable mind RAM on unimportant matters. what you should be thinking of is this: "why is it that my figures look blurry? or why dont my colors on my canvas match up with the colors of whats in front of me? -then you spend your thinking time on coming up with answers to these questions. and once you do!!! holy shit! its better than having sex. that feeling of elation you get when you have figured out yet another piece of this everlasting puzzle we call art.

    so get to it!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sourgasm View Post
    Right now there are people who are naturally talented and working super hard all the time. They are your cohorts, companions and competition down the road.
    I find that letting this get over your head is counter productive too. It's better to focus on doing than thinking about competition .

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    Yes, definitely a time and place for both. You'd do well to observe your future competition regularly, though. Not only for professional context, but to give you that little kick in the ass you tend to get from seeing the awesome work of other folks.

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