I recently deleted my art Instagram. I have some ugly feelings about instagram and how it affects artists in a variety of ways (and I've certainly struggled in the past with comparing myself to other artists on the platform), but the specific concern for me is that social media feels antithetical to two of my core values: present-moment living and eliminating the need for external validation.
Case in point: I've had a finished pencil drawing sitting in my "studio" (really just a corner of my living room where my drawing table lives) untouched for months now. I had partially inked it and then never touched it again, even though I was really excited to keep working on it. The delay? I felt I should make a timelapse vid of the inking process to post on Instagram, as those always did well on there.
But the thought of putting in the time to set up, record, and then edit the vid made me kind of exhausted and deterred me from working on it at all. After months of growing increasingly dissatisfied with insta and feeling that it was a serious drain on my creative process, I followed my gut and detonated my account. Four days later I had a finished ink drawing.
As I was inking it I gained greater clarity about how and why insta had been killing my art mojo. At one point in this process I thought the drawing looked nice with a combination of the pencil and ink lines showing together, and a little voice in my head said, "I should take a photo of this to share on Instagram."
That goddamn insta.
There I am in a complete flow, fully present doing something that brings me great joy, when suddenly I'm no longer focused on my art or the present moment at all but thinking about stopping what I'm doing to pick up my phone and take a photo to share in the future with people I mostly don't know in the hopes of...getting their validation in the form of lots of little virtual hearts?
Man, that shit's pernicious.
It feels so much better to me to enjoy the people, places, and objects in my immediate surroundings, and that's especially true for my art process, so all socials are now gone from my life.
So why then am I still writing this blog? That's an excellent question, and one that maybe I don't have a great answer to right now. Certainly, a part of me wants to share my art with other people and have them enjoy it, and I'm thankful to everyone who follows this blog and is reading this post. (Yeah, you!)
But if my desire to share my art becomes mixed with my motivation for making it in the first place, I end up just not making anything at all. However, it still feels important to me to document what I'm creating for its own sake and have it available to people who are interested, and as a result, I'm thinking of this space now as a personal art journal that's available publicly.
So, once I was done inking, I scanned the art into photoshop and got busy cleaning up the lines. I had done extensive revisions of past drawings in photoshop (among my recent art, Gaia in particular comes to mind) and this turned out to be the latest one to get a "digital remaster," so to speak. (Or would it just be the original mix and master? Hmm...)
Even though I'd held this drawing up to a mirror while it was in the pencil stage and thought it seemed well-balanced, once I flipped it horizontally in photoshop it looked super messed up to me. Wonky proportions, all the vertical lines of the little city in the bottom corner were leaning to one side, and a bunch of other stuff felt off.
Something that comes up often for me when I look at a mirror image of my drawings is that I can clearly tell they were drawn by a right-handed person, as the entire image is kind of sloping to one side. Maybe that's fine, but I kinda think it's not because it causes three-dimensional objects to flatten out and generally spoils the sense of physical space I'm hoping to create.
So I did a lot of work flipping the art back and forth and making edits to the body proportions, symmetry of the dude's head, adjusting some shadows, reworking the bottom of the drawing, etc. I actually spent hours tinkering with it. For comparison, here's the updated art:
Funny thing though: as I was working on the edits I was reminded of when I was a student at University of Colorado and submitted some pieces I'd been working on to the university honors journal. After I submitted, I changed one of the images pretty extensively (in the same way I did with this one, flipping it in photoshop).
When I heard that particular piece had been selected to print in the journal, I sent the revised version to the editor, and he replied back that he actually liked the original more. He even checked it with several people in the office and they all picked the original version as the one they preferred.
That blew my mind a little, because to me the original at that point looked horribly lopsided, the dude's eyes were uneven, his nose was crooked, it was just kind of a mess in my eyes. Same way I felt about this new one.
And so that memory came floating back to me as I was working on this current art and I wondered, "Am I just unnecessarily overworking this piece without actually improving it any?"
What I do know is that I think the revised version looks much better to me right now, and since there's no editor here to stop me, that's the one I'm rolling with for color.
Here's a couple side-by-side comparisons of areas where a lot of work was done. Original version is on the left, new one on the right.
That's all I got on this one for now. Color for this piece will be brutal, easily the most challenging one for me to date. Kinda looking forward to it. But I'll share updates of that once I get there along with some thoughts on the personal inspiration for this image.
PS: I have been all over the place trying to figure out what I'm doing with my metal blog. I think I finally have it sorted out and have a clear direction for all of that though, so all metal articles are now gone from this site and I'll be writing those in a very different tone and style going forward on www.subterraneansteel.com.
That will also really de-clutter this site and allow me to focus entirely on my art here. Cheers till next time.