So as it turns out my last post (from July) was me talking out of my ass, as I'm still in an art funk.
I haven't been drawing very much lately. There's a number of reasons behind this, but it's mostly due to some existential art crisis and not knowing where I'm going in the future creatively.
The stuff that I have done recently has been... very draining.
One more Sailor Scout (Uranus) until I've done the set, and I'm going to complete it, and then I don't think I'll be undertaking something like that again. I'm willing to admit that I started it for all the wrong reasons; love, love, loved the series as a kid, one of the things that inspired me to draw, but in the end I'm disappointed with my own execution of it.
I think, "I'll draw some guilty pleasure stuff for fun" but then that's not pushing my boundaries at all and I'm not proud of that. In the end it seems more like an exercise in line mileage and how fast I can churn out a piece.
I've stopped experimenting, pretty much completely, and I feel like I haven't grown as an artist in... months. Nine months, at least.
I've got a comic page that I'm in the middle of colouring that's taking me forever, due to lack of enthusiasm. Again, I'm frustrated with my execution; my skill level doesn't meet the expectation I have for my own product. I'm really excited for some of the stuff that will happen in the future of the story, but I'm coming to the realisation that since I haven't got any of those concepts out of my head and down on paper visually, I don't know how to draw any of it to the caliber I want.
Then stack this on top of whether I want to be a 2D visual artist at all. For post-secondary, I was torn between Commercial Animation and Fashion Design, among others. It was pretty much a coin toss, the deciding factor being how much student loan debt I wanted to be in at the end of it. Since then I've discovered a fondness for sculpting, which I am still very bad at, but - like fashion - can be an expensive hobby. A while back I wanted to be a bass player. Then it was theatre. Then it was dancing. And so on.
Along the way, I eliminated a few due to convincing myself of the impracticality of them as careers. Now that I'm trying (and failing) to get into animation, it seems all the same.
I guess we'll see where this goes.
I did some thinking. More precisely, I did some remembering. There's some advice I got at a writing seminar, and I've never forgotten it, because it was just... really sound advice.
The advice pertained around having a cornerstone book. Now, from the way that he described it, it was clear that he either actually meant having a keystone book, or my memory is faulty and I just mixed up the two words but I digress.
Architecturally, the keystone is the stone at the top of an arch - pinched between the two sides. Dictionary.com supplies 'the wedge-shaped piece at the summit of an arch, regarded as holding the other pieces in place.' As an idea, a keystone is synonymous with a basis, a principle, foundation, anchor - and that's exactly what he meant when he said always to have a keystone book.
Whenever you're in a funk, whenever you've got a creative block (since this was a writing seminar, he said for writing), you should always have a keystone book. This will be your favourite book; your number one influence. You pick it up, and you flip through it a little, and you read it some, and it anchors you back into everything you draw meaning from, everything you enjoy, and the general voice of everything you want to create.
Having something like that in any creative profession is essential. There's a really good meme for this on deviantart, called the Influence Map.
Oh, and here's mine, circa 2010.
You know what exercise that I already did on this blog that's pretty similar to this? Yeah, it was 5 Inspring Images back at the beginning of 2011.
When you're in a funk, find what inspires you, and rebuild the arch from there.