Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ambition

-By Jesper Ejsing


Here is a sad confession: Drawing; I suck at it.


These last 2 weeks has been creative hell for me. I always thought things would get easier along the way. I always thought: “One day soon, I will reach a level where I no longer have to think about anatomy or dynamic poses. They will just be obtainable within seconds of sketching . And then I can focus on something else”. I only realise now that this is the fattest lie or thinnest hope of my career as an artist. It NEVER gets any easier. Thing is; it gets harder since my ambition gets higher. I am not content with poses or faces I would have been happy with a year or so ago. Hell, let's be honest. Faces I made 3 weeks ago would not be accepted in the current state of crazy ambition I am in right now. The reason is this female wolf-man I am doing right now. Can you say Female Wolfman? Sounds like the sexually confused of the Underworld. Whatever.

What I am driving at is this: It is hard as hell when you are in it. When you are sketching and sketching and nothing you do has that effect in your brain where it suddenly feels like all the puzzle pieces you have been shuffling around for hours, days ( and in this case ) or even weeks, falls into place. “There, I nailed it!” I have had that feeling four times during these 2 weeks, and when I got back the next day, my enthusiasm had faded to a minimum and I saw every fault there was and lost all fire or lust to even start painting that mediocre sketch in front of me. I have transferred this illustration 3 times to a watercolor paper before abandoning it and going back to scratch. I have had my Art Director approve of three different sketches that I abandoned as soon as they got approved. I have painted a version 2/3 finished before tearing it apart…and all in the name of ambition. I´ll tell you.

Ambition is your own worst enemy. But I think it is the only reason that I haven’t dried out years ago. I am never satisfied. You should never be satisfied. It means there is no place else to go. ( Inside I am shaking my head at myself right now, wishing I had been just a little more satisfied ten days ago ) Did I tell you it is the same little illustration I have been sketching for 14 days now? One figure, minimal background, almost free hands in doing the pose…

I can only hope that this dreaded inability to draw something useful is the face that comes right before an artistic jump. Because this afternoon I nailed the pose! Again.

I will stop writing now and start painting before I can regret anything.

The sketches I have posted are not the ones I am talking about, but since it is World of Warcraft I cannot show it yet. They are instead sketches i think succeded immediately. The one with the gollem was only rejected because it was too violent, not because there was anything wrong with it. The more classic portrait version I remember was done in less than 10 minutes, and came right out of the pencil with nothing to it. ( There must be a way to tap into that state. When I find it I will keep you posted. )

18 comments:

  1. I cringed on the inside reading this because I've been exactly here through this roller coaster. Somehow I end up enjoying even the most torturous parts of the process, even self-inflicted.

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  2. I feel like this every time I sketch lol
    Great article, good to know I'm not alone. :D

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  3. I've been going through the exact same thing for over two weeks now. Trying to draw a Beholder fighting a chick in scale mail. I can see it perfectly in my head, yet I've drawn it at least 20 times now and it still needs work.

    Sad thing is, I used to think I was really good at drawing, now I know better.

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  4. @anthonyjschmidt: Ha, I've been doing the same thing for weeks on the same "challenge".

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  5. Jesper I think all artists feel this way... I remember getting so frustrated once I threw the pencil at the wall and didn't draw again for a whole year. We are our own worst enemy.

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  6. I know! When the sketch is amazing it's the best feeling ever. And the other 95% of the time it's really hard work.

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  7. I feel your pain, I freaking hate my drawings, I try to do my best and always end up with "well, I'll fix things painting".

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  8. So there is struggle and then there is STRUGGLE. I find that when I go through the capital S it is because I am breaking through a barrier of artistic growth.
    If this is what you are going through Jesper i would love to hear what wall you just broke through. It might take you a while to be able to reflect and pinpoint excatly what changed.

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  9. A musician friend told me recently that he's been trying to compose something every day, and that when he gets something done, he then tries to compose its antithesis, something completely opposite to it. I wonder if it could work in visual art, and whether you could jump-start your work in one direction by going the completely opposite direction? Haven't tried it yet...

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  10. Hang on - so it isn't just me and I haven't just started sucking more as I get older (which makes no sense, since I have to draw every day for work whether I feel competent or not, but it is how it feels sometimes)?

    Thank you! That's enormously comforting. And not the first time this blog has made me feel a lot saner :D

    (Female Wolfman? Um...She-Wolf, maybe?)

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  11. Hang in there!!! You are not alone. I think a worse feeling than what you describe is when you think you have a composition/idea nailed-down and everyone else tears it to shreds! The lesson is learned and the criticism taken, but it always leaves that doubt and mistrust in yourself where you will second-guess work you do later.

    Great post Jesper!

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  12. If you think the "sucking" is the "not getting it the first few tries", then all of us are going to suck our entire lives. It's obvious you can draw, so just own it (even if some days you feel like you can't). I would HOPE that you looked at works from your past and thought "wow I could do much better." That's the whole point! So, that being said, you are succeeding as we speak, because you are getting better and better.

    Wish you the best! You are an inspiration.

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  13. The best thing to do is to keep going. That simple phrase "Keep going" has indeed kept me going. As a result, when it comes to drawing, I may not be one of the best, but I am one of the most determined.

    A Japanese black belt in karate and jiujitsu once told me that you never reach your full potential until the day you die. Those words are worth remembering.

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  14. I hate that feeling. Hate it! :) But i like the one that comes with success once you nailed it. If only it wasn't followed by the fear of having to go through it all again. LOL Thanks heaps for sharing.

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  15. I am glad to hear so much about struggling. I always believed it was supposed to be a struggle because my right brain has never trusted my left brain. Conclusions left to my left sphere is stiff, analytic, and no where near to fluid, NO heart. My first drawing is always anal. I draw til it convinces me to start over. The stronger my feelings are about the idea, the quicker I get to the second or 3rd sketch. This is when my work really begins. It usually ends with the major part excepted and a small part compromised. Only a very few I can still look at without feel a degree or a percentage of a degree of disappointment. This process has led a eight year old tracer of comics to an illustrator that made a living drawing and still looking forward to seeing where it will lead me.

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  16. Thank you for making a whole bunch of us neurotics feel completely normal! *laugh. Yes, it's hard...and if at any point it gets too easy, give up and go home, because the truth is, you're not trying anymore. I also suck at drawing (no, I really do) I race to get to my colour work because I'm totally insecure about drawing. As I get older though, I realise, if I'm ever going to make my way as an artist I have to stop running and face my insecurities because that's where REAL growth and talent lies.

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  17. Hang in there!!! You are not alone. I think a worse feeling than what you describe is when you think you have a composition/idea nailed-down and everyone else tears it to shreds!
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    شركة بسمة الرياض وكعادتها معكم تتشرف بتقديم خدمات غسيل المجالس بطريقة علمية ومجربة لضمان الحفاظ على الاقمشة والانسجة فاذا كنت تبحث عن يحافظون على مجلسك فنحن نضمن لك مع شركة غسيل مجالس بالرياض أفضل النتائج الممكنة فنحن نعتمد على عمالة مدربة ومجهزة باحدث الماكينات الحديثة لغسيل المجالس وجميع متعلقاتها حيث اننا نستعمل مجموعة من المنظفات العالية الجودة لضمان الحفاظ على الالياف الداخلية للمجالس فنحن لسنا هواة فى هذا المجال فلدينا باع طويل فى خدمة غسيل المجالس على مستوي المملكة العربية السعودية وبالاخص مدينة الرياض.
    وحتى يتم القيام بعملية غسيل مجالس راقية تقدم شركة غسيل مجالس مجموعة من النصائح والارشادات العامة لاتباعها فى المستقبل والتي هي من اسرار مهنتنا وأولها هو الاعتماد على التنظيف بالبخار بشكل دائم لانه يحافظ على الاقمشة بشكل لا يصدق وضرورة استعمال بعض المنظفات المجربة والتي تعطي للمجالس رونق والوان زاهية بالاضافة للاعتماد على السجاد والموكيت والذين يمثلون مجموعة من أهم المفروشات الخاصة بالمجلس ويجب الاعتناء بتنظيفهم وغسيلهم بشكل دوري حتي يظهروا دائمآ بالمظهر الراقي الذي يليق بضيوفك شركة تنظيف كنب بالرياض.

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