One of the most troubling phenomenon’s you’ll face as an artist is ‘getting better’…
Now why do I say troubling? Well, in the beginning 'getting better' is a very good thing. Most of us all start out on a level playing field where we pay our dues through learning, practice and unrelenting dedication to harness our artistic skill set.
But eventually, down the line, it gets to a point where you wonder how much further can you push it. You’re satisfied with the level you’re at. And there’s a certain feeling of contentment in that. Here’s you’re art work, here’s what all those years of constant study, repetition and experience resulted in.
Yet, just when you thought you’d gotten to know the epitome of what you could produce as an artist – it changes. It continues to grow and mature with every new piece of work you create.
And so the identity of your art work changes once more. It visually becomes different.
This can be somehow unsettling. Because as artists we identify powerfully with our art. It is us, our very expression.
Lately I’ve been looking back at some of the work I’ve produced over the years. What disturbs me, is how at the time I felt so confident in the fact that these works were the best I could do. I still knew I had room for improvement – always! – but I felt I knew my art for what it was.
Fast forward 1 or 2 years later and the work I’m creating now looks completely different. It’s almost shocking. In fact, this constant transformation, as my style and method refines itself is happening just as rapidly as it ever did.
Why do I bring this up?
Well, here you can see two illustrations of my character E… these are from the upcoming ‘How To Draw Women: Female Heads’ course I’ve been diligently working away on the last few months. The straight ¾ view of E’s head is from the first set of lessons featured at the beginning of the course, while the other is a new illustration I’ve just created for the course cover art.
These two illustrations are about 3 months apart, roughly the amount of time I’ve spent producing this course. And over that time, you can see how much my style and E as a character has changed.
This might be due to the step by step break downs of the female head that I’ve created for the course, analyzing my workflow and techniques, or simply repetition. But whatever it is, there’s clearly a stark contrast between the two – and in the moment I was at my best.
The problem for me is, whenever I look back on a volume of work that I’ve created for a course like this, and see how much I’ve grown myself through the process of creating it – I want to throw it all out and start again!
And I’m sure every artist feels this way from time to time.
But I realized that growth is a good thing. I’m glad that I’ve made progress. And we should never sacrifice our growth as an artist to preserve consistency… because that only leads to staleness.
This is really the beauty of being an artist… When all is said and done, you get to look back on an entire volume of work, a visual narrative that shows you how far you’ve come. And without those old drawings you’re embarrassed to look at now, you wouldn’t be at the point you’re at now. Without the humbleness to accept you haven’t reached the epitome of what your art ultimately will be, you’ll never grow beyond where you’re at.
Don’t just have a love for the art you’ve done today. Have love for the art you did yesterday, and the art you’ll do tomorrow. Because it’s all one and the same and you can’t have one without the other.
I guess in a sense, the latest illustration I’ve created here of E is the sum of all I’ve learned myself throughout the creation of “How to Draw Women: Female Heads”. And that’s just awesome. My hope is that when you eventually go through this course yourself, you’ll see similar results.
Speaking of which - The course is very close to being done now… All that’s left to go is the final lesson that will focus on coloring the female head – using the illustration above as the example.
I would have called it a wrap on the course sooner, but I get so many questions asking about my comic book coloring process that I wanted to go the extra mile and show you the exact method I use, real-time, to color up my comic book characters. Or at least their heads… and I’ll even be revealing what’s going through my mind as I color, such as co