The Difference Two Months Makes: A reflection about practice

Hey folks, I logged onto my Dribbble account today to put up the genie piece that I was really proud of and much to my chagrin I saw these two images:

The idea was there, the execution was not. Click to enlarge (please don't though, it's bad)

BURN IT WITH FIRE

BURN IT WITH FIRE

You can click on them if you really want to. The thing is I had an idea that I really liked, but I had only very recently tried to get into this kind of line work and had really never tried digital coloring at all. I posted both of them to dribbble.com and kind of forgot about them. The reception was tepid at best and I left that idea behind, a failure. I revisited this particular idea partially on a whim and partially because my friend Leigh Ann had really liked it and I wanted to improve on something. The lines are ok on the scanned in one, but not very strong at all. There's some sense of volume, but it's weak and all over the place. What bothered me the most were the sloppy lines that made things look just slightly off and made everything look weird to me. The color is bad and over saturated in the digital version and I didn't bring the original in large enough to get rid of some of the fuzziness from the low res scan. 

10946329476_48f4b3373f_o.jpg

Here's the version I re-did last week. Now, it isn't perfect, believe me, but it's an improvement. For this one I used the wrong kind of pen for the type of paper I used and I thought I was completely boned, but kept going. I figured I could see it out to the finish to see if I could correct what I did wrong last time. The end result looks pretty decent at this resolution, but can't get much larger without seeing the MAJOR imperfections in the lines and colors.

 

The reason I'm doing this post though, is not to point out all the little flaws and imperfections in my but to illustrate that with daily, purposeful practice improvements can be seen. I've been seriously busting my butt trying to get better with my line consistency, my forms, and a hundred other things- but in a vacuum, it seems all for naught.

 

It's hard to see where you're improving and growing with your face so close to the page so-to-speak. So like the last iteration, I put this on the internet in a major way to see what would happen. This one drove much more traffic to my site, got positive comments on Reddit, and doubled my pageviews on my site. Now, that doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but to me, personally, it's huge. People were coming to my site and seeing my content. People were commenting positively and providing real feedback. I wouldn't call this piece perfect, not by a long shot, but I decided to do it anyway. I was so discouraged by the reception of the last iteration that I almost didn't put it up, and just could have just kept tweaking the lines and colors for weeks. In the end though, I decided to call a spade a spade and put it up. Sure I could keep working on it, but I'm a chronic overworker and I knew I needed to let it go to move on to something more productive. That's not something I would have done 2 or 3 months ago for sure, but now I know that's a pitfall to avoid.

 

I might be meandering a bit here, but the point is this-art is a practice. In yoga, there is no 'winning'- just practice. You deliberately do your poses - even if they aren't perfect, and reflect when you're done on what you can do to improve and take that with you when you're done. I see drawing and art in general the same way. There isn't any 'winning', when you can quit and stop forever as the victor. You sacrifice, practice deliberately, and when it's done you put it away and move on. I've learned so many things from this project that I can take with me on to the next one-which is worth more than any amount of likes, or upvotes, or pageviews.