Artistic Engagement and the Art Rut

Original: 6th Oct, 2011

It’s been a while since I posted anything here…! I’ve done quite a bit of sketching, but mostly I seem to be in an art rut of some sort. I really *want* to draw and work involvedly on an image, but I can’t seem to find the interest I need in the subjects I’m drawing to feel engaged. I’ve started drawing numerous things, but after a few minutes of haphazardly sketching out a pose and getting to the point where I start trying to refine the drawing, I realise that I’m just not all that interested or engaged in what I’m drawing. It’s that engagement that brings out the best of my drawing knowledge and gives me the patience to actually want to spend the extra time drawing each line out precisely and delicately, which makes all the shapes fall into place like some sort of 3-dimensional puzzle and I can really enjoy what I’m doing. That sort of engagement is being ludicrously difficult to find and I’m not entirely sure where to look for it.

I don’t really know what to do to bring my interest back. It’s frustratingly conflicting due to my strong desire to be drawing and painting things, but it’s like… I don’t know, really wanting chocolate and then you get some and it tastes like cardboard or something, so you try to find more, but it all seems to taste the same, and no matter how much chocolate you eat, you can’t enjoy it unless you’re lucky enough to find properly-made chocolate. Or something. I’m sure there are better analogies out there, but yes. That. I want drawing, but it tastes like cardboard, but I remember how good it’s supposed to taste and want that.

For a long time, I was content to redraw characters of mine, comparing the new versions to the previous versions I’d drawn, excited to see the differences and improvements. I don’t think that’s working for me so much any more since I’m sort of getting tired of drawing the same things again and again.

I remember my earlier experiences when I started taking the improve-at-art concept seriously, and learning about things like construction lines made me feel like I’d gained some sort of magical power since I was now more able than ever to draw the things I imagined. It was really exciting to me to be able to put my ideas in a viewable format, which I’d been able to do before, but in a more limited way. I would have loved dearly to be able to draw as well as I can these days, but now that I have the skills that I do, I struggle to use them because the novelty of being able to draw my ideas has long since worn off. I suppose.

I don’t know, sometimes I wonder if drawing other peoples’ characters for them would give me a new sort of motivation where I’d know that what I was drawing was going to make someone quite happy when I was done. But then I also can’t help but wonder if that’s one of those other sorts of things where I feel excited about it initially, but then when the pressure of the obligation to actually get something done for someone else is present on my mind, I might be less enthusiastic.

So maybe I need to re-evaluate my motivation for drawing, the purpose behind what I’m doing, and try to find my long lost Engaging Interest. The feeling that I cannot wait to get to a blank canvas and start scribbling out what I’ve got on my mind, the strong burst of excited energy that helps me power through an artwork with enthusiasm and where each drawn/painted part rewards me with the satisfaction of a Job Done Better Than I Was Expecting.

Pfft. Good luck.
I’m not going to quit drawing or anything, and I’m still trying to get better and stuff, I just can’t seem to get very far past the initial sketch phase of a drawing.

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