Since I'm coming up on 9 years on this site, this seemed like a fun little trip down memory lane. Pardon my pseudo-intellectual ramblings.
Warning: Super TL;DR. This is basically me giving a DVD commentary on my gallery and excuse to ramble about my art/life philosophies. You've been warned.
The first time I heard about DA was back in the long-lost days of role playing on Proboards (is Proboards still a thing?). I was 13 at the time and was enthralled with the Warrior Cats series; some googling had led me to discover that online role-playing was, in fact, a Real Thing, and I became admin of a Warriors RP for a few years. At some point there was a thread where users could post their art and I noticed a few people linking to DA accounts. I was reluctant to join, but ended up signing up. I have no idea what the name of that account was; I've tried and failed to find it. But it does exist somewhere out there in cyber-space. It's full of horrible Crayola-pencil drawings of Warriors OCs. I propositioned everyone I could find for an art trade, typed lyke dis xDDD, and offered commissions starting at 50 cents. At some point I made a second account, Kaylink - named after one of my favorite OCs at the time.
And then the magic started.
Pretty typical examples of my 14-year-old style. I was pulling from a lot of other artists at this point (names are lost to me by now but if you were around the animal art side of DA circa 05, you're familier with the popular styles at the time. Very big hair, shiny gradient shading, disney faces, etc. Magnifique). Check out that sweet ID. Man why didn't I have any friends idgi.yes that was my fursona at the time
By 06 I was starting to learn art technique a little more (holy shit guys did you know you can use LAYERS to DRAW?? crazy). I was still mostly doing my OCs and Warriors art. Shading? Anatomy?? Backgrounds??? Lol nah man fuck u
By late 06/early 07 circa age 15 I managed to pool enough money together to buy my first tablet, a Wacom Graphire 4. I loved that thing to death and it put up with many, many of my disjointed doodlings, God bless it. By this point I was vaguely aware that shading/backgrounds were, indeed, a thing. My first attempts were pretty much the epitome of "eh fuck it, good enough for me."
Alright so at the risk of sounding too much like a pretentious asshole, late 07 is what I consider one of my personal 'turning points' with art. In that with drawing probably a dozen things a day, every day, my grasp on anatomy and art in general actually started moving forward at a good clip. I started doing realism, backgrounds, shading, dynamic posing. Not super impressive now when I look back on it, but in the timeline of Things I've Made, I find it interesting.
2008 was a good year for me. 16-17 years old, drawing almost every day, still improving. I was ambitious and inspired and, based on my chat logs, a really fucking annoying dumbass. But a happy one. Ah, youth. My art output this year was at the highest it's ever been (you know what they say about peaking in high school).
Ah, 2009. The start of my college career. Due to some personal issues I was a giant asshole this year. If you knew me during this time, I apologize. As I started to get busier with school, my art style devolved. I was really into cell-shading and for some reason overly-long legs on all my canines. I developed what can only be described as a raging erection for studying anatomy. I also did a lot of chibi/meme drawings which are fun to read. To me, anyway.
2010 was... pretty similar to the previous year, I think. Drawing time decreased as studies increased. I started trying to do more stuff with color and shading. Gradient shading was fun for me to do and people seemed to like it for... whatever reason. This was also the year I got really into recording my work and making 'speedpaint' videos for YouTube. I had a ton of fun making those, and there's something to be said for watching a play-by-play of yourself drawing. You learn a lot. what the fuck is up with these super long canvases I cant line up these thumbnails gd
2011 was another good year for me, the start at least (I think). I drew a lot more than normal this year and really tried to improve my lighting/poses. Continued to do lots of speedpaints and livestreams. I had a lot of fun with some of the pieces I made this year, and still really like them.
And then 2012 happened. By the end of 2011 I had started to have panic attacks and increasing amounts of generalized anxiety, which after several months came to a head and left me in a state of paramount depression. I was miserable. I hated myself. I couldn't bring myself to do anything but spew my self-hatred and sadness into stupid pictures of stupid dogs. So I did.
And then I got better. I sought help and I struggled and then the world was Good again. By the end of the year I was as happy as I've ever been. My art suddenly had colors that weren't black, red, and cyan. And in the obnoxious way life likes to do thing, my desire to create art dropped like a goddamn rock.
Look at how goddamn similar the 1st and 3rd poses are son of a bitch that makes me look bad. So, 2013. My productivity is taking a nose dive. About once every 3 months I get the urge to make a picture. By summer, I've entered my final college semester. By October I'm in the middle of the most loaded semester of my life. And by December I've graduated and poured hundreds of hours of a work into a project I can't stand to watch because I hate it so much. But hey, it's done.
And now we're at 2014. I continue to have problems getting myself to draw. And I say 'getting myself' and not drawing because I have never felt so utterly unmotivated in my life. Rarely on the times I do draw, I like the end result. It's mostly on experimental stuff I have no desire to elaborate on. And so many vertical canvases What The Fuck.
I am so, so incredibly envious of those people that can think "hm, I want to draw" and just sit down and draw. Even if you're just doing a pencil doodle or coloring an adoptable or chicken-scratching for the sake of it. The fact that you can want to do something, and then do it? Fucking incredible. Don't take that for granted. I'm goddamn impotent nowadays. I feel like I need art-Viagra to even think about wanting to draw. I have ideas, and scenes, and characters and stories, but the "well, just do it" part? Totally blank. It's so fucking frustrating and I hate that I've seemingly lost my grip on the one outlet I use to express myself.
It's not even that I want to necessarily draw art for the sake of art. It's more like my drawings have always been how I let my brain run free and let my thoughts evolve, and I lost that outlet now and it's all clogged up inside. And I hate that I can't let it out. The desire to just do is itching and itching and driving me mad.
I have always been interested in the correlation of The Artist and The Art. It seems much like performance to me, how someone can throw themselves into the creation of something that is unlike them, but oftentimes reflects themselves more truthfully than the person does. It's like a bizarre form of escapism and self-declarative creation rolled into one. You aren't the art, but you speak through it. You become through it. I don't know, I'm shit at words. I just find (at least with myself) that when I let myself 'think' through my art, I become so much more visceral and violent and bold than I ever am in my head. What that says about me, I don't know.
I made my best art when I was depressed. When that mental filter is gone - rotted away, life is pointless, you hate yourself, you hate where you are and what you're doing and who you're becoming - you create. I didn't care what I was making or what it looked like, how other people might interpret it, I just made. I posted a few pieces, but most I keep stashed on my hard drive and I skim through it a few times a year when I remember it's there. And I'm always struck by the bare-bones honesty of what I did, when often I don't remember making it. At the risk of glorifying mental illness (which I feel I must point out, being depressed was nightmarishly horrible. I do not ever want to go back to that mental state as long as I live), I miss being able to just throw what I was feeling into visual form. When my mental functions came back, those filters went back up, and I went back to struggling to figure out how to take thoughts from my head and put them into visual form. Every now and then I get a burst of stress that kick-starts my brain and I draw like I used to. I cannot figure out how to harness that motivation. It only comes when I am frightened and tense. I'm determined to figure out how to overcome it. I hate relying on fear to fuel my brain.
One day. One day, I tell myself, you'll punch through that barrier and be able to go. I know I will. It's just the waiting that's killing me. I'm on that teetering point and I just need that one push to get myself over the edge. Maybe it won't come for years yet, maybe it'll be next week. I'm just eagerly awaiting it when it does.
So, yeah. Thanks for reading my rambling. If any of you even made it this far, that is. I know I sound incredibly pretentious and self-important, but hey, this was my DVD commentary of something that's been a part of my life for nigh a decade (or forever, if you count art itself and not just DA). So thank you. If you've been with me for more than the past few years, you are a hell of a trooper. If you've been with me since the beginning, holy crap you're dedicated. Or hey, if you just watched me yesterday, thanks for that too. I hope I have some more to show you soon.
HEY, audience participation (if any of you are still reading!) Is there a piece here from 2011 or before that you'd like to see me re-do in my current style? Please let me know! I've been wanting to do a "draw-this-again" meme for a while and I'd love suggesstions.
And if you think you might like to do a similar "My DA story/DVD commentary" journal, let me know! I promise I'll read it. I can do that much.