The Importance of Learning and Other Thoughts

Mandala black and white illustration Inkscape

Maybe some of my lovely followers have noticed that I’ve not been very active lately in blogging. The truth is that I needed a break for drawing to decide how to move on with my art. I’ve felt recently that my artistic progress is too slow. The reason is that I only draw, but I don’t learn.

1. Don’t compare yourself with others

Nowadays it’s standard that people always hurry and they feel the pressure to become ,,someone‘‘. It’s common that young people in their twenties already run businesses, are famous singers etc. And everywhere you look you see people who are more successful, more wealthy, more beautiful than you. And then you desperately try to keep in track. You make schedules and plans and time tables to be more productive. You sweat and cry and despair, but you still not be good enough. You never be good enough. There is always someone “better”.

After I started digital drawing, I entered the so-called Art World. By that I mean I have subscribed many great artists, liked many art pages in Facebook, explored art in Pinterest and so one. Therefore I’m always surrounded by art. And I love it. Everyday I open my computer, I see many incredible pieces of art. But sadly, it has one not so positive effect also. It can make us doubt in ourselves. And that’s exactly what happened with me. Everywhere I looked I saw talented and successful artists, making gorgeous artwork, plenty of them working when travelling or working from home or having great studios. And I felt I am nothing compared with them. I felt frustrated with my own art and my own life. Therefore I pushed myself, I tried different schedules and plans to discover how I am more productive. I constantly compared my work with others and made the conclusion: my artwork is the piece of crap. I even thought that I am not the “real artist” because I don’t draw every day like “real artists” do (not that I have a clue how often other people draw, it was just my assumption). What’s worse, I wanted to finish my drawings quickly, so I have something to show. But doing so, I didn’t actually make something big. And I didn’t learn something new. Good pictures may take time and good pictures need learning. Instead of getting better, I started to feel pressure and I didn’t grow as an artist anymore.

2. Too much pressure, too little joy

When I first started digital drawing, it was pure joy for me. But then, at once I felt sad that no one can see what I make and I started to think about having a blog or website. I still remember the happy feeling when I made the WordPress blog and the first blog posts. Even if my English was quite bad and my writing style was not the best, if I now read them, they feel so honest, so genuine. They bring back good memories. Then there came the first likes and comments and first followers! I couldn’t be more happier.

But with all the pressure I mentioned before, I lost most of this joy. I admit that some pressure is good for me because it keeps me going, but there was just too much of it and it was the wrong kind of a pressure. I love my life and I don’t want to ruin it by feeling like I’m not so good as others. Also, I am drawing because I love drawing, not because I must become the greatest artist in the whole world. Of course I want to become better, but I need to accept that there is always someone more excellent. I am unique in my own unique way, I can’t be like everyone else. The societal pressure to be the best and the pressure we put ourselves so often rob the enjoyment and fun from our activities. Like we are always hurry to reach some point where we finally are “the perfect”. Only that there is no point or top or climax in the life. Life is not a movie and if we are not living here and now, we are not living at all. As I read from somewhere: “The perfection is an illusion.” Thus, I’ve realized if I want to be happy it’s important to enjoy every moment and everything I do just now. The “real artist” is not someone who draws every day or has the great studio, it’s the one who values the creative process as much as the work itself. Maybe I’ll achieve something one day, maybe I’ll not, but if I live happy life and enjoy what I do, then it’s already success. I must not pressurize myself by comparing myself with others and accept that I what I am: the person who has her “cycles” – sometimes I read much, sometimes I draw much, sometimes I do nothing for a long time. And it’s okay. Because the more I let myself be free, the better results I have. If I try to change it and force myself to schedules and plans, then my work suffers and I suffer.

3. Don’t be afraid of quitting:

The same applies to the finishing the pictures. I always felt I must finish all the pictures I’ve started, even if I didn’t have any idea how to do so. And therefore it often happened that I subconsciously started avoiding drawing. I think that if we always try do finish what we have started, even if we don’t want to do it anymore, it can result that we put all our effort in “dying projects” instead of making something fresh and new. And then we linger and postpone and make excuses for not doing it and in the end we make less and we make it worse. If we don’t feel joy doing our things and feel the pressure always to finish them, it can cause that next time we don’t start something new at all.

Of course it isn’t always easy to distinguish what is out of our comfort zone and what doesn’t work for us. I suppose that we at least should give it to try, and then we can see, if we really want to do it or we don’t. But then it’s important not to feel guilty if we quit.

4. Most important – take time to learn:

If I want to become better, it’s not enough if I fabricate every day tons of new drawings, instead I must learn new skills and techniques. I need to educate myself about basics of light and shadow and how colours work as well as find out the opportunities offered by the programs I use. Here’s one example which shows how important learning really is. Few weeks ago I had to create mandalas because of one task in my workplace. Therefore I watched first time the tutorial videos in YouTube about Inkscape and I discovered many new possibilities in the program. Watching only couple of videos made me learn new things about program I’ve used almost four years! If they were difficult things then it would be not so big matter. But these were simple things that I should already know by that time. Now I ask myself, why on earth I didn’t watched tutorials before?!? What’s wrong with me that I didn’t want to learn?

Here are some mandalas I’ve made:

In conclusion, I decided to devote more time to learning art. I don’t say that I’m not gonna make any finished pictures, because it’s also possible to learn by this way. But I allow myself to not complete these pictures if I want to start a new one. I allow myself to doodle and sketch a lot and watch YouTube tutorials and read articles about art. And if something in my “journey” is worth sharing, I would share it with you. 🙂

Here is one great thought about mandalas by Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung:

“I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing, … which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time. … Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is: … the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”

Thank you, everyone, who have come so far to read my gibberish. 🙂

Special thanks:

to Dorit, for all your advice and help you’ve gave me. 🙂

to Nina, for stimulating my thoughts. 🙂

Links of the video tutorials how to make (sort of) mandalas in Inkscape: