About being scared and feeling safe

Maybe too safe...

Concentrating mainly on developing my skills I feel as if I had lost the connection to the concept part of being an illustrator. But everybody around me told me last year: "It's normal to feel of. You have been a student for 7 years and now being out there in the real world feels weird and it frightens you." and "You had a very stressful time with your final project and it's normal to feel awkward and feel like you don't fit in."

But my real problem was that I had the feeling that I lost my mojo. Okay, I can draw well on good drawing days, but to be an illustrator you have to have more skills than that. The past weeks I talked with a couple of other freelancers and...of course everybody has some issues (for example the imposter syndrome) but the best advise was: "Just let it go. Don't stress too much about it and have fun!"
That was when I remembered something from my first year in art academy. After a few months, I finally managed to make a decent painting of a still life. Everything was in balance and when my teacher asked me (when we had evaluation) which painting I liked the best I proudly pointed to it and said: "This one, because it feels like someone professional painted it." And he said "Okay. Your next assignment is to let it got. Take that painting and make something different with it. Paint over it or rip it up, cut it up and make a collage." Of course I got upset. I felt cheated. Being proud of it was going to be the reason why I had to destroy it. That is why I refused and was ready to get a bad grade for the next assignment. But then he said: "Why are you so upset? It's just a painting. You are going to make a lot of paintings. You have to learn to let it go. You are scared right now to let it go. Don't be scared. You can't be dragged down by that one good painting. You have to learn to dare to make something great, let it go and make something new, which may or may not be as good. Don't hold on to it because you will get scared of making something new, because it might not be as good as your last piece." He looked at my stubborn expression. "But I can't force you to do it. The only thing is that you are scared of letting that painting go and I think you should not be scared by that."
It took me a few days before his message came through and I felt kinda stupid about my childish behaviour...

And now, thinking of these words again, I noticed that I am very scared. Not only of being a freelance illustrator, projects and clients but also about making non-scientific/non-realistic drawings. Let's be honest. I like to draw realistic. I like to draw birds. It keeps the skills I learned in my masters programme alive. But I want more and just don't dare to let it go. To take the risk and maybe create very crappy illustrations at first because I don't know what I want or how to do it. Being scared that they will look worse than the scientific/realistic stuff I make....

But I have to let it go!

PS: I finished the blue heron:

Sketch as I posted it in "A new year begins".

Finished illustration. (Drawing birds calmes me down! :D)


Time and productivity

Time is a big issue, as is 'style' Which I also hope to cover in the next few weeks. But for now: Time. Making time. Having time. Spending time. Wasting... time.
Time is something everybody has in the same amounts. But today I think even more than any time before there are plenty of ways to 'waste' time. You can not really waste time, since you don't own time. Just as much as you can not make time. But these are just expressions we used to express something else. Wasting time = execute activities in a certain amount of time which are not thought of as productive. Spending time = execute activities which are seen as (socially) important. Making time = postpone or drop certain activities to do something else instead in the same time. Having time = not having any activities in a certain time.
Of course these are no official definitions, just mine. These definitions are also the reason why I stated that you can't waste time. You can however 'spend' time (execute activities in a certain amount of time) which we see as wasteful as surfing in the internet, hang out on facebook way to long, play computer games, sleeping in etc. etc. It's not as if you don't now what I mean. You just want to have a look at your facebook news feed and when you check the time it's two hours later. There are also activities which we quite enjoy and although being just a hobby, are not seen as unproductive as the examples I mentioned for wasting your time. Like reading, enjoying time with your friends or loved ones, gardening etc. This would be the category 'spending' time. I think 'having' or 'making' time are self-explanatory.

So this year I want to blog more (and not just dump some pictures, but talk about things I consider interesting), be more healthy (hehe ;) ) aaaand.... be more productive. Although for some friends I already am quite productive I always look at others and think 'Oh my, he/she did paint so many paintings this year... and what have I done!??' For a moment I can become a little discouraged, but shortly after I get motivated. (A good example for one of these moments was, when I read 'Taking' stock' on Muddy colors by David Palumbo. But in the last weeks I started to feel that I have to make some changes if I want to be more productive. One of these changes would be to spend less time on unproductive things!! Which is why I am going to have social-media-free days in which I won't visit facebook, instagram, deviantart, blogger or behance. I hope that I will be able to hang in there and to not fall back into old habits.

Since social media can be an important tool, there is also an important reason why I want to do that. I follow many artists I admire. So when I just login to check on one of my platforms, I can sometimes get overwhelmed by their work. Not only how good they are but also how much they produced in a time in which I didn't even get close to finish as many pieces as they did, not even half of what they made.... And I would beat myself up for that. Why couldn't I be just as productive as they are, not even talking about why can't I be as good as they are....
Da LuVisi wrote a great article about how his life changed for the better when he left social media. Although I don't intent on leaving it, I think I just need more discipline and stop looking at everybody else's art and start enjoying drawing again ;) or as Bob Ross would put it:

PS: For the ones who are wondering what I am up to. At the moment I am very engaged with several projects and taking part in many contests AND started to work on my new website (with some help by my lovely boyfriend ;) ). But I hope that I will soon be able to show everything here!!