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"Do your best" is such a loaded phrase. As I look at my comics, past present and future, I find myself thinking about that at random a lot. 'cause it can be interpreted as "do the best you're capable of right now," "do the best you're capable of, ever," or even "do the best you can with what you've got."

When it comes to my art, there are very few times where I felt like I actually did the best I was capable of. I mean yeah, most or all artists look at their work and say "Gawd this SUCKS!" but the reason we're like that is because we feel like we should be able to do better. (Or at least, that's why I'm like that. Other artists may vary, I suppose.)

But the thing of it is, usually I am trying my hardest. There have been times when work escaped that I had no business letting loose because it was a half-vast job ... at conventions, mostly, which is why I have taken to doing fewer pieces and charging more, so I can do them right instead. There are a couple of pieces out there that I am flat-out ashamed of, for just that reason.

So if I'm trying my hardest, but still don't feel like I'm doing my best, that means that somewhere between effort and execution all the quality is falling out. ¬.¬ Or to put it more nastily...

"I did my best!"

"That was your best?"

It may sound funny, but I am quite serious when I say that one of my big plans for the hiatus period between SJ - the strip and SJ - the comic is art lessons. I have never had any formal art training, but have gained what skill I have from studying other people's work and reading lots of books. My art has certainly grown by leaps and bounds between this and this ... but it's got a long way to go before it gets comparable to this or this.

I'm hoping that art instruction will improve my technique (and hopefully expand my repertoire) so that there are fewer times when I feel like there's this enormous, unaccountable gap between "trying my hardest" and "doing my best" ... it really sucks to knock yourself out on a piece only to have it come out a bunch of junk. I don't expect to be able to just toss off beautiful stuff right and left on a whim -- although that'd certainly be nice -- but I do want to be able to put down the pencil after a few hours' work and not be ashamed of the result.

-The Gneech



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 15th, 2007 01:58 am (UTC)
I've had art lessons! Hell, I had art classes in college. Art 1, Art 2, Art 3, a ton of other 3000 level art courses.

Wanna know what I learned? I can't draw abstract, my doodles are more abstract than my actual artwork, and I suck at the pottery wheel. Yup, that was about it. Oh, and that drawing in charcoal is cool, because you can get yourself all dirty and grey and make yourself look like a ferret. That was a bonus. ^_^

*hugs* Hey, you do what you need to do, Gneech. Hopefully you'll have lots of luck with your lessons.

Feb. 15th, 2007 02:12 am (UTC)
Real artists are never satisfied and always strive to improve, aye! :)
Feb. 15th, 2007 04:09 am (UTC)
What kind of classes are you going to take? Many/most of them will not help you get to those images you linked. One kind of class that definitely would help would be figure drawing. That gets both anatomy and quickness (as poses are often only 5-15 mintues at the beginning of sessions). If you want to talk about art education, feel free, as I do have a degree in the subject after all. (Not that it makes me as good of an artist as I want to be--)
Feb. 15th, 2007 11:50 am (UTC)
Aside from life-drawing seminars and what-not, I was thinking of trying out Joe Kubert.

Feb. 15th, 2007 05:33 am (UTC)
The vast difference between "do the best you're capable of right now," and "do the best you're capable of, ever," is basically the reason I still want to give every elementary teacher I've ever had, a few hundred well deserved punches in the face.
Feb. 15th, 2007 11:49 am (UTC)
There is no greater burden than having a high potential.

Feb. 15th, 2007 12:18 pm (UTC)
... and the oldest grudges are the most powerful.
Feb. 15th, 2007 11:53 am (UTC)
Their teaching methods didn't jive with your learning methods and personality, I take it?
Feb. 15th, 2007 12:29 pm (UTC)
"Inability to concentrate more than 5 hours a day" could only be understood in terms of "Lazy & stubborn". That demands, threats, punishment, and public humiliation didn't work, only made them try harder.
Its still why I don't have time to learn to draw. Or excel at anything else, potential or not.
Feb. 15th, 2007 11:57 am (UTC)
Like you were talking about yesterday, when the weather gets nicer, we can go to the Town Center and do some life drawing (although there wouldn't be an instructor there to give you advice). Art classes are great as long as you find one that concentrates on the skills you're interested in learning and has a good instructor. I have the feeling that you're more interested in illustration rather than "fine art" (i.e., drawing and painting), but experience with life drawing would probably help, just because it acquaints you with how light works, etc.
Feb. 15th, 2007 02:01 pm (UTC)
I've personally never had much success with art classes. They tended to be either 1) time killers, 2) taught an instructor who wants you to draw how they draw, or 3) headed by insane teachers. Other than a few very technical things like shading and perspective, they didn't actually TEACH anything. Naturally, YMMV.

The best way I found to improve was to just dive into things you don't like/know how to do--granted, some art classes will do that, but unless the instructor is motivated (see above) you won't have any guidance on whether you're doing it RIGHT or not. As long as you have a good reference to work with, you'll learn.

I found Disney/WB fanart was the best way to learn cartooning, and the trick is not to simply COPY things--it's to learn how to do them on your own. If you wanna draw Donald Duck, use a screenshot of him standing as a reference, but learn how to draw him, say, throwing a pineapple.

As for the rest of it, at least the rest of us artists understand "your best" vs the learning curve, and all your fans love you anyway, so don't sweat it too much. If YOU sweat it, that's a good motivator, but nobody else holds it against you ;-)
Feb. 15th, 2007 02:24 pm (UTC)
The thing is, I can see -where- I want my art to be, and I can see that my art misses the mark, but I have a lot of trouble figuring out how to get across that gap ... which is what I'm hoping the instruction will fix. For instance, I learned more about inking watching Walter Crane's 45-minute panel at FC, than I did trying to teach myself for 10 years.

Having the stuff I want my art to look like in front of me as I draw makes a big difference too -- so hopefully the new house will help too. I plan to put a lot of nice artwork up on my studio wallspace!

-The Gneech
Feb. 15th, 2007 06:13 pm (UTC)
For instance, I learned more about inking watching Walter Crane's 45-minute panel at FC, than I did trying to teach myself for 10 years.

That's an example of finding an art class/instructor that will actually help you. I know I've told you before, but since this is a public forum, I had the same experience with watercolor painting. My high school art teacher tried and tried to tell us how to do it, but I could never get the hang of it. Then she had a watercolor artist come in and do a painting in front of us. That was all it took for me. I suddenly "got it."
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 15th, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)
D'Aww! Well thanks. :)

Feb. 15th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC)
I need to work on my art as well. Let me know if you want to do an occasionall get-together to work on art, offer advice, opinions, etc.
Feb. 15th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC)
Sure, I'm game. :) I'm hoping to get to more of the Washington Webtoonists and Furry Coffee Meets once spring rolls around, too.

Feb. 15th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
"I don't expect to be able to just toss off beautiful stuff right and left on a whim -- although that'd certainly be nice -- but I do want to be able to put down the pencil after a few hours' work and not be ashamed of the result.
You just described my efforts at art during most of the 80's. >_<
Feb. 15th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC)
Heh. During the '80s, I remember thinking I was pretty good. Weird how my standards went way up later!

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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