Hey all! I participated in the MerMay challenge! I actually managed to draw every single day except Memorial Day weekend because I was on vacation for my birthday!
If you’re curious for a more in depth look into these, please visit my Instagram where all of these are posted!
I’m an artist! Of course I’m crazy! (Actually, believe it or not, there might not actually be any correlation between creativity and mental illness according to this Psychology Today article. When I got myself tested, I was only diagnosed with a minor form of anxiety, but who doesn’t have it in this day and age?)
Even so, sometimes we feel like we’re actually two people. There’s the rational side that has big dreams and knows that it requires hard work to reach said dreams, then there’s the instant-gratification monkey that doesn’t want to work hard. These are also things I say to myself when I’m feeling frustrated, scared, or lazy. These are things that help me a lot of personally, and I invite you to try saying these to yourself.
1. I Will be Okay.
I wish I could say I came up with this, but this something that I hear all the time from Charlie on his YouTube Channel Charisma on Command, which I strongly recommend especially if you’re socially anxious and shy.
Every time I think things are not going well, or I’m about to apply to have my art exhibited, or try something new that could potentially help my art career, I just think to myself, “No matter what, I will be okay.” And I will. Even if things turn out so wrong for a while, I know I’ll get through it somehow.
2. This Too Shall Pass.
A quote from my old buddy, Mark. Something I say when I’m really not having a good time for whatever reason like I made a mistake at work, am receiving harsh criticism that I can’t find a way it will help my art, or I’m sick and miserable (at least then I can read a book). These are the moments you really can’t stop and appreciate. All you can remember is that they will pass, and you can move on.
3. Don’t Compare yourself to others. Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday.
I really really should have put the book I got this from on my list of books that shaped my philosophy, but I’m happy to give a nod to it now. This is a rule from Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life that helped me a lot as an artist (that and Treat Yourself Like Someone You’re Responsible for Caring For). This is something that keeps me from being overwhelmed, and even happy for, the artists out there with skill that I will never come to close to, but I still get to keep my competitive spirit by competing against myself. Although, sometimes I feel I’m ahead, and sometimes I’m behind. And that’s okay too.
4. I am Not a Quitter
Running on a treadmill? Having a rough time at your job that you’re not sure you can take anymore? Learning something new and you’re hitting a wall? Whenever this happens to me, I simply whisper, “I’m not a quitter.” and it gives me the boost I need to keep going, even if it’s just for a few more minutes. Now, maybe you are a quitter. Maybe you’re the kind of person who quits 100 times out of 99. Not in that moment, you’re not!
5. It Will Only Take 10 Minutes
Every time I wanted to read a book, paint, work out, or something I needed to do, suddenly, I never wanted to do it. I believe you have felt this way repeatedly. I learned, albeit later than I would’ve liked, that’s not the act of doing something that’s all that important, but starting. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked myself into spending only ten minutes on a project, ten minutes go by and I think, “Eh, I can keep going” and next thing I know, two hours went by, I have an almost completed painting, and I realize I forgot to eat breakfast.
6. Don’t Let Fear Rule Your Life
When I was about to graduate with my bachelor’s, I was in a kind of slump. I wasn’t sure where my life was going, what I was going to do next, and I was very, VERY scared. That was when I decided to go live in Italy for a year. Every step it took me getting there from the application process, to the acceptance letter, to the getting my passport and visa, it felt like something was fighting me. What if I end up destitute? What if it goes wrong?
My mother said, “Don’t let fear rule your life.”
If I listened to that fear, I would have never had that experience, met those wonderful people on my journeys, and have those wonderful stories.
7. If takes less than 5 minutes. Do it now.
“I will find a goddamn light, man.” Was listening to a Kevin Hart interview excerpt while I was writing this. The fact that this man is just “happy” and can take any moment and find joy in it somewhere is just a rare thing.
Everybody seems to have this misconception that in order to be a real “artist,” you have to have this god-like talent. Some people are artists, and some aren’t.
Full disclosure, this post covers primarily drawing
That’s not true at all! It really doesn’t take much to develop a drawing skill that will impress your friends and loved ones- maybe your social media followers if you want to get ambitious.
And think about it: Many artists who are “successful” aren’t exactly Raphaels or Da Vincis. Most of them are cartoonists who know what kind of drawings make people happy and have fantastic marketing and social media skills as well as artistic talent. So there you go! No excuse to not start being the artist you want to be!
I want to share my personal quick tricks to get you started as an artist right away. If you want to work towards becoming as good as Cesar Santos, that’s up to you- but today we’re going to do a few quick and easy things.
The first thing I highly recommend is a sketchbook. I found a cute, tiny one for you here for less than $7 at the time of writing this blog post. Starting off with some regular computer paper is fine too.
1. Write what your favorite thing is.
In your little sketchbook, and write down what your favorite thing is. Do you really like horses? Write that down. Classical art teachers might have you start “Beginning Drawing” with landscapes or random shapes.
If you’re not interested in landscapes or spheres, but you really love mermaids, you may get bored really quickly of the former. So, think about what YOU really like. If studying those other things will help you get there- great! If not, don’t worry about it. Like I said, this list is just to help you get started quickly.
2. Find that Favorite thing in a Cartoon Style.
Everybody loves cartoons! Chances are, whatever you love drawing, there is a cartoon version of it somewhere. Go online and find clipart, or if you like people, anime, or a 2D Disney style would be a fun and great place to start.
After you find that cartoon style, it would be a good idea to draw what you see. Maybe even start with a few blind drawings to get your hands and eyes warmed up.
There’s also a ton of great videos on YouTube that teach you how to draw cartoon versions of anything. If you have daughters or little sisters, or just like drawing… for example… ballerinas, general, here is a 10 minute how-to-draw a cartoon ballerina video. For very early beginners, I highly recommend the YouTube channel Draw So Cute. She gives very easy-to-follow advice on how to draw a cartoon version of just about anything.
If you’ve tried drawing this and are still struggling I recommend printing out your subject, then trace a few times. This will help the muscles in your hand remember how to draw the various curves and lines of what you want to draw. Here’s some tracing paper for less than $5.00. Make sure to draw your subject on your own though! Nobody is impressed by a tracer!
3. Draw in that Style Every Day for a Few Days
Of course, learning to draw quickly doesn’t necessarily mean “immediate.” Ideally, I should be telling you to draw every day until you kick the bucket. That’s not reasonable. I can barely draw every day- let alone a brand new beginner like yourself! I would recommend, at least starting out, trying to draw for 30 minutes per day. It’s easy to find the time.
It may not even take you five days. I’ve known many adults in their 40’s who were able to pick up cartooning immediately.
Five days is a good number though. One day let’s you suck at it, two days lets you suck at it, you should be getting the hang of your new cartoon style by day 3, and day 5, you should have created something that your friends will be impressed with- especially if you’re only starting out! Remember: The reason why most people can’t draw is because they’ve never started. If you’ve drawn Betty Boop for five days, you can still draw Betty Boop much better than 70% of people.
This is optional, but if you really want to impress people (especially yourself), add color. Seriously. I’ve been looking at my numbers, and more people respond to colored artworks more so than my usual daily black and white sketchbook drawings. People love colors! You can invest in some good colored pencils, get Photoshop (Gimp is free if you’re not swimming in cash or have access to a college computer), or you can get some nice watercolors- which is nice for relaxation.
5. Congratulations! You can Draw!
Let’s face it, in a world full of trolls, snobs, and self-proclaimed “art critics.” there’s a pretty good chance no one is meaner to your art then… well… you. You should stop that! You art has never done anything to you, why are you so mean to it?
I was inspired to write this list because I used to have this annoying habit of showing a piece of my art to my Dad, he would say it’s good, then I would say “It’s not my best” or “I’m not super proud of it” to which he would say, “It’s better than what I can do.” I’ve made it a point to stop doing that, because I too would hate it when artists better than me would say they weren’t proud of a piece of artwork they made (yet they still post it on social media) and I too would sit there thinking, “Pfft. It’s better than what I can do.”
I don’t want anybody, even people who’s art I personally don’t like, to say their art sucks. I want to live in a world where people can recognize their talent, appreciate the fact that they’re not as good as they want to be, but will get there someday. I want artists to be more supportive- especially of themselves.
Before you look at your newest painting, drawing, sculpture, photograph, or anything you made recently, and say “it sucks,” please consider these 5 reasons why you shouldn’t say it.
1. You’re still a better artist than SOMEBODY.
Think about how insecure you are about your art- now imagine meeting the artist you admire most- living or dead- and hearing them say that about their own art. You might feel relieved that even the artist who inspired you the most is critical of their own art- but the thing is, they’re wrong. You know it in your hear they’re wrong. If their art really did suck, you wouldn’t have been inspired to create art because of them.
That’s how many people think about you when you say your art sucks.
Now, you are a better artist than somebody. Hopefully the most important “somebody” was you yesterday- a month ago- a year ago. The point is, your art can’t suck because, as long as you’re still learning, the art you’re making now is the best art you’ve ever made! Most importantly, it’s not the best art you’re going make- that’s still yet to come.
I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited about that fact.
2. You might just be fishing for compliments.
I know. For a fact. That I’ve been guilty of doing this. Even though I might not have been as proud of a drawing I made, but there was a good chance I was showing that drawing to someone who was not an artist- or at least not as good of an artist as me.
I would then say, “Oh it’s not my best” or whatever, and immediately expect-even on a subconscious level, that they would give me reassuring compliments and help inflate my ego.
The point is, you might need to consider if deep down, you don’t honestly think your art is that bad- you’re just trying to get compliments- and if you are- you shouldn’t probably stop. It’s manipulative and not very nice.
3. Why Does “Your Art Suck?” Because You’re Still Learning!
I think too many young artists get this idea in their head that they become an art student, then are a professional artist and can be the best they can be. The truth is, great artists never stop learning.
If you’re not proud of the artwork you made, this is a really good opportunity to learn why you’re not proud of it- to get a really good look at it and figure out what you need to do better, then learn. Is it a color theory issue? Is it a proportions issue? This where you should stop criticizing yourself, but instead, critique yourself.
Now, this doesn’t mean you suck. Be honest, yes, learn, yes, do better next time, yes, but be kind to yourself. There will be times in your life where the only place you can get encouragement is yourself (in which case, I’d advise you to move because it sounds like you’re surrounded by toxic people).
4. The More You Say It, The More You Believe It.
Imagine you’re looking for a new couch, you’re asking the salesman questions about it, and he says, “Yeah, it’s a good couch, but it’ll only last you three years, the upholstery is noisy when you sit on it, and gosh, you know? The color’s not the best, it’s a dirty color.” Would you want to buy that couch? Also, why is this salesman still even working here?
If you want to make art more than just your hobby, you’re going to need to learn a little about marketing your artwork too. The more in the habit you are saying “Your art sucks,” the more you’ll believe it, and the less attractive you’ll be to buyers. When I worked retail, and told customers about a product I bought myself and loved- I would get excited about it and can’t stop talking to customers about it. Every item like I’ve sold customers sold every. Damn. Time.
If you’re in the habit of being overly critical about you art- and especially when you’re talking about it out loud to others, you will believe your art sucks. This will make you more frustrated with your art and, in extension, yourself.
Art is more than just any old product- it’s a creation of your very being. It’s a part of you- instead of not being content with it- especially the way it looks now- you should be proud of it, excited about it, it’s a part of your story and you should tell it to others loudly and happily.
5. Finally, art is about as objective as they come. There is art out there that sucks- but not yours.
See this painting? This is a detail photo of Jackson Pollock’s “Number 8.”
You know what else? It sucks! There was no visible effort put into this painting, the guy literally just poured acrylic paint onto a canvas every which way with no apparent rhyme or reason!
And people have gotten horribly angry at me for stating these opinions. Turns out there are a lot of people who admire Pollock and his work, and get very touchy when people say it looks like- well- nothing but a bunch of splattered paint.
If you think your art sucks, there’s a good chance it doesn’t. Everybody out there has a different viewpoint on what makes good and bad art. There are people who might look at your art and think it’s bad, and there are probably a lot more people who look at your art and think you’re a considerable person of talent. You should be in the latter category.
Art is so objective, why shouldn’t you like your own art? Or at least be excited about the potential masterpieces that will come out of your future years of practice?
I don’t have a lot of time to post this morning, but in a few words: Too tired, hard time getting up, wasn’t able to continue the painting from yesterday like I planned, opted to draw from my binder of old master references instead.
Let’s just say, thank God I had everything set up the way it did, otherwise I wouldn’t have done any art practice this morning at all- which is worse than spending 30 minutes on a sketch.
This morning as a little rough, unfortunately, I started this morning watching some YouTube videos on my phone, but that’s okay. Still Managed to get 45 minutes total worth of work done.
I started a painting of my younger sister who I also happen to teach art.