Everything is overcomplicated, especially what I love

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vividgroovy
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03 Jun 2020, 11:57 pm

I've talked about some of this on here before, but it was a long time ago, so hopefully nobody minds.

Artwork is my special interest. I enjoy the creative side of it. The technical side has always been extremely difficult for me. I work mainly on digital media because it's more editable. I spend hours and hours on a single picture and I'm still not satisfied in the end.

My mother draws for fun and has no ambitions. I've never been like that. I've always wanted to produce something of value, even as a child. Society commands me to care about other things. It threatens to vilify me if I don't. I still don't. I care about this, and frequently, it's painful.

I devote a lot of my free time to my artwork, much of it to revision. I've been asked, “is it worth it?” The answer is “no.” I feel like nothing I've ever done in my life is worth the amount of labor I have to put into it and the things I want to do are no exception.

Here's my metaphor: Someone says, “Hey, can you flip that light switch?” And to them, it's a simple switch, but to me, it's a complex system of switches, dials, buttons and levers that all must be operated in the precise right order. And nothing you say can ever get them to see it as anything but a simple switch. They say, “Wow, it takes you that long to flip a switch! What's wrong with you?!” That's how every single thing in life is for me.

It feels like the majority of my life is devoted to my retail job, which I find boring, difficult and stressful. (I'm an "essential worker," so I've been working throughout the COVID-19 "shutdown.") If I do manage to get a decent chunk of time to work on my art, something *will* complicate that, 100% guaranteed. Random events will conspire to make devoting that time to drawing as difficult as possible. Then, in a wink, the time is up and it's back to retail drudgery.

This kind of thing has been constant, throughout my entire life. There was a period when my computer got a virus once a week. The many people in my life who have tried to control me have tried to take my artwork away from me. Then, there was a time I was living with my parents in a hotel room, after they lost their house. Every day we had to worry how we were going to have enough money to pay for the room. The one thing I had was my computer and my artwork. Then my monitor broke. I had a meltdown and said I wished that I could have the creative part of my brain surgically removed, because it was causing me too much pain. My stepfather laughed hysterically, overjoyed at the sight of my suffering.

I wish my OCD would give me a break, my computer would just work properly and I could just draw. I don't want to quit, but I also don't want to keep devoting this much time and energy to fighting everything in order to do it, just to have to fight the technical challenges of it when I do.



Hokieman7
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04 Jun 2020, 2:06 am

I feel exactly the same way about my life.There is just so much that I have to do right now in exactly the right ways that I'm not sure how I'll get through.I guess we'll trudge on like usual, barely making it through but we will! Wish I could hug someone myself so I'm sending a virtual hug to you.I'm not a religious person but I'm praying that things get easier for both of us. Hopefully those things will get us through for awhile.I actually feel better knowing that others experience what we go through.



vividgroovy
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04 Jun 2020, 2:16 am

Thank you, I really appreciate it! :) I wish you luck in your endeavors as well.



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04 Jun 2020, 1:39 pm

If pushing the envelope was not this hard, it would have been done already.
Hysterical laughter is usually not all about a single thing, but a reaction to stress that has built up and just needs a trigger. All of Shakespeare's tragedies have a few jokes in them to allow this release. I got the best laugh of my life when I surprised people in a tense meeting.



I love belko61
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04 Jun 2020, 5:57 pm

Hi vividgroovy! You should post a sample of your art - I really would like to see something, unless it's too personal.

And if you have a desktop it is fairly easy to upgrade your ram, video card and fan for more computing power. With the downfall of crypto mining there are some deals out there. Maybe save and get a new system? With my son I always had a decent setup because the speed of his thoughts and keystrokes were beyond compare. He is a programmer though, and never could draw worth a damn - except for endless treasure maps as a child.



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05 Jun 2020, 3:01 am

I can relate to that experience of a special interest getting overcomplicated, though I don't know if it's exactly the same thing with me. I'll describe it.

Every task I take on that attracts me in any way (and even some of the tasks that don't initially attract me) kind of manifolds out into tons of work and analysis as I try to get it all perfect. Music is my main thing, and I end up either sucked into the technology of sound engineering or laboriously re-recording or practising the same little aspect of the music, fastening onto some detail that feels at the time as if it's nowhere near good enough and I have to make it as great as humanly possible. I'm sure half those details don't matter to anybody else, and probably won't matter to me when I look back on it later, but I can never tell which half to ignore.

It wouldn't be so bad if at least it was all artistic stuff, but like I say, I get sucked into the technology a lot, and the art ends up taking a back seat. I'm often surprised at the strength of the artistic expression that manages to get through the technical walls I create, and then I get annoyed because I can glimpse how much more art I could create if not for the technical burden. I do enjoy the technical side of it and the surprising achievements I can notch up with that (quite useful too as money is limited for it so I often have to make a silk purse out of a pig's ear), but I keep feeling that being a good engineer wasn't supposed to be the point. It's a sense of being pushed to one side of my life, and it's nobody's fault but my own brain's.

I over-think everything, it's what I do best and I get good results if I can afford the time, but I don't want it to be what I do best. Unfortunately it seems to be the only way I know. I'd pay a producer and an engineer to take the detours off my hands and guide me away from going down the rabbit holes, but I'm such a perfectionist that it would probably have to be a very expensive studio service or I'd just be disappointed and that I could have done a better job myself, and I don't have that kind of money spare.



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05 Jun 2020, 3:13 am

It can be difficult to ever be truly satisfied with one's own creations. We become too demanding on ourselves and then get demotivated.

I agree with ilovebelko61 that it would be great if you could post some of your work on the Art/Writing/Music forum. Your work is probably of such a high quality that you could one day do it as a form of part time income, if not able to face the pressure / deadlines of doing it professionally.


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vividgroovy
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05 Jun 2020, 7:57 am

This post was about my reply disappearing, but I recovered it.



Last edited by vividgroovy on 05 Jun 2020, 8:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

vividgroovy
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05 Jun 2020, 8:01 am

ToughDiamond wrote:
...fastening onto some detail that feels at the time as if it's nowhere near good enough and I have to make it as great as humanly possible. I'm sure half those details don't matter to anybody else, and probably won't matter to me when I look back on it later, but I can never tell which half to ignore.


Although the circumstances may be different, your situation does sound like mine, especially this part.

This week is my annual vacation, a rare chance to get some artwork done. Today, I spent the entire day finishing a picture that's been *mostly* finished for some time. Everything I wanted in the picture was there and you could tell what it all was, except for a million unfinished things that nobody else would notice. I put it up on my gallery sites, which means it's "finished" now. (I'm reminded of the old saying, "Movies aren't finished, they're abandoned.") I'm glad that I did it, but that's time that I could have spent working on something new. But I wouldn't want to put it up in the state that it was in before. Then, when I'm choosing a subject for a new picture, I think, "Is this going to be something I want to put that much work into again?"

I love belko61 wrote:
Hi vividgroovy! You should post a sample of your art - I really would like to see something, unless it's too personal.


Sharing my artwork online is one of my major motivators to finish a piece. I'm on a few gallery sites, such as deviantART, but I'd be glad to share it here as well. I appreciate your encouragement :). EDIT: I put the two pieces I just finished in the sticky art thread.

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And if you have a desktop it is fairly easy to upgrade your ram, video card and fan for more computing power. With the downfall of crypto mining there are some deals out there. Maybe save and get a new system?...


Fortunately, my current laptop seems to work better than my old desktop PCs. The issue that frustrated me when I wrote the OP was that my computer mouse wasn't drawing smoothly, and nothing I tried fixed it. (Today it randomly seems better.) I continued drawing, but it was very frustrating to have this happen when I finally had a bit of time. Again, this is not a major thing in and of itself, but it seems like there's always some reason I should stop drawing and fix [whatever it is.]

envirozentinel wrote:
It can be difficult to ever be truly satisfied with one's own creations. We become too demanding on ourselves and then get demotivated.


I know that this even happens with professionals. I have a facebook friend who's a professional effects animator. He lamented that he couldn't go back and fix a splash in "The Iron Giant" (1999) that was missing a layer, even though the splash that's in the movie looks great to me.

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I agree with ilovebelko61 that it would be great if you could post some of your work on the Art/Writing/Music forum. Your work is probably of such a high quality that you could one day do it as a form of part time income, if not able to face the pressure / deadlines of doing it professionally.


Thanks, I appreciate it :). I've dreamed of working for an animation studio and/or doing children's book illustrations. However, I'm aware that there's a great deal of pressure in those fields.

I once had an opportunity to do illustrations for somebody else's children's book. However, the author decided not to go with me. It was a poor fit as my work is more whimsical and this book was set mostly in an ordinary kitchen.

Dear_one wrote:
If pushing the envelope was not this hard, it would have been done already.


Yes, I think that's true. One of the things I've been trying to do is draw more dynamic poses. What was frustrating me in this case is that I was trying something with a foreshortened arm and it just didn't look right no matter what I did to it. I'm not going for realism, I'm a cartoonist, but I did want the viewer to be able to tell what that arm was doing. I've since changed the pose so that the arm is in a different position.

I watch drawing streams and I see that people can whip up a beautiful piece of artwork in minutes right before your eyes. I'm sure they've worked for years to get the skills to do this. I'm mostly self-taught as an artist and I've always been a sort of non-traditional learner. I get the impression most people learn basic structure and later develop a style. I kind of came upon that backwards. Over the years, artists who recommended structure usually did so from a source of authority ("my art professor says you're supposed to do it this way.") rather than explaining how it could be beneficial, such as being able to draw more efficiently. In fact, I feel like a lot of society is set up for people who respond to authority rather than people like me who want to understand why things are done a certain way.

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Hysterical laughter is usually not all about a single thing, but a reaction to stress that has built up and just needs a trigger. All of Shakespeare's tragedies have a few jokes in them to allow this release.


If you mean when my stepfather laughed at me when I was upset over the monitor breaking, in that particular case, I believe it was schadenfreude.



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05 Jun 2020, 4:58 pm

vividgroovy wrote:
This week is my annual vacation, a rare chance to get some artwork done. Today, I spent the entire day finishing a picture that's been *mostly* finished for some time. Everything I wanted in the picture was there and you could tell what it all was, except for a million unfinished things that nobody else would notice. I put it up on my gallery sites, which means it's "finished" now. (I'm reminded of the old saying, "Movies aren't finished, they're abandoned.") I'm glad that I did it, but that's time that I could have spent working on something new. But I wouldn't want to put it up in the state that it was in before. Then, when I'm choosing a subject for a new picture, I think, "Is this going to be something I want to put that much work into again?"

Yes my work sounds like the movie saying, more abandoned than completed. When I recorded on multi-track tape, I knew that the more re-records and overdubs I did, the greater the risk that the tape would wear out and ruin the whole thing, so I'd get to a point where I had to wrap the job up. I didn't realise what a blessing that was, I just longed for technology that would let me go on forever. Now I've got that with digital recording, I've lost that constraint and I have to use an act of will to end the process.

Collaborating with other musicians eases the situation because they're doing some of the work and in theory they can influence me away from going down rabbit holes, but my hyperfocussing brain is usually too stubborn, and my perfectionism tries their patience horribly and insults their talent unless I hold it all back, and then we end up with a result that I feel isn't a patch on what it could have been. And with pictures, I've never heard of a collaborated painting - why is that?

I do see one ray of hope. Sometimes when I've been torn away from a project for long enough, I've come back to it with less of this hyperfocus and sense of amplified detail, and wondered why I was fussing so much about small beer. Like an addiction it soon comes flying back, but maybe I could learn to take a break before that happens. Though I'm not great at the self-discipline required to pause a thing once I'm working on it, and the people I know are much too nice to drag me away screaming from my music. So I'll just have to hope that the pain I get from ignoring the problem will eventually motivate me to bite the bullet and prioritise my work better, and hope that my idea will make a difference.

It's been good talking about this stuff. Setting it down and reading about it is clarifying it a bit for me, and for some reason that process works better for me when I think I'm talking to somebody than it does when I'm just thinking.



vividgroovy
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09 Jun 2020, 12:22 am

^

Yes, I feel better talking about this as well. I'm not sure if it comes across, but I was much more agitated when I wrote the OP than I was when I wrote the later replies.

In my online art communities, I've run across some visual artists who collaborate, but I'm not sure exactly how they do it.

The part about having to be "dragged away screaming" from a project sounds a lot like me. I was once in an animation class where they made us stop working on our projects to listen to a lecture, on the idea that we wouldn't be distracted. I would have listened a lot better if they let us keep working through it. All I could think the entire time the professor was talking was, "Let me get back to work, let me get back to work, let me get back to work." But yes, taking a break is sometimes the key.

Self-discipline is very difficult for me as well, because I feel like I'm always starving to be working on my art when most of life consists of doing things I have no interest in just to survive.

With my current artwork, I feel like I almost-but-don't-quite understand "the rules" to things like anatomy, conveying distance and such. I understand them well enough to fake it, but that involves guesswork and leads to a lot of the time-consuming revision I mentioned. The thing is, I've run across some artists who focus on these rules to the point that they seemingly can't see anything in a piece of art other than its "accuracy" and that's not for me.



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09 Jun 2020, 1:15 am

Hi vividgroovy. I checked out those sites the other day to see your artwork. Cool :D



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10 Jun 2020, 2:08 am

vividgroovy wrote:
Self-discipline is very difficult for me as well, because I feel like I'm always starving to be working on my art when most of life consists of doing things I have no interest in just to survive.

With my current artwork, I feel like I almost-but-don't-quite understand "the rules" to things like anatomy, conveying distance and such. I understand them well enough to fake it, but that involves guesswork and leads to a lot of the time-consuming revision I mentioned. The thing is, I've run across some artists who focus on these rules to the point that they seemingly can't see anything in a piece of art other than its "accuracy" and that's not for me.

I have various extreme tendencies towards my music. Whenever I'm having to do other things I feel the anguish of being kept away from my real work, yet when I'm relatively free to get on with it I find myself letting the day slip by without doing so. I'm supposed to be making a video of myself performing a song "live" to upload to one of those social media groups that's running a virtual session as a substitute for a real live music venue that can't run because of the lockdown and social distancing. But I've done nothing with it for over a week.

My finger ends are losing the calluses necessary for playing the guitar, my voice is getting out of trim through disuse, and I keep thinking that by the time I get it done the virus will be gone and it'll be too late to bother. I think a lot of the reluctance to work on it comes from the perfectionism - usually I just focus on the sound of the music I'm recording, and that would be hard enough to equal the quality I can get with multi-track, playing just the guitar first and then focussing on the vocal, and I can't do overdubs to correct or improve on the bits I don't like, but when I add to that the need for it to look good as well as sound good, it's not going to be perfect, but I can't seem to let go of that idealism and so I expect I'll just be disappointed. Everybody else just gets on with it.

I've been aware for years that a picture that is merely accurate isn't really art but just mechanical photograph-like reproduction, though I admire anybody who can achieve it because I don't have the skill. It's kind of similar with my music. It's like writing prose and finding that the syntax, vocabulary and grammar are second to none but that I've not really said anything. A picture too has to say something, and like all art, if it doesn't make people feel something when they see it, if they don't relate to what it's saying, it's failed.



vividgroovy
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17 Aug 2020, 2:35 am

This thread is a couple months old, but this is on the same topic.

My mother is an extremely kind, understanding and helpful person. She's also very good with technology and can usually handle everything by herself. However, for some reason, when I have a day off, she suddenly becomes helpless while trying to order something online and gives me a second-by-second report of everything that's going wrong for her, asking me questions every step of the way. I, of course, am trying to do my artwork.

I want to help her, but it seems like every time I'm home, there's something like this going on, or my stepfather is causing some kind of turmoil, or I'm having some sort of personal problem. It seems constant. CONSTANT. So this time, she was trying to place an order on Amazon for my stepfather's birthday using her phone and it wouldn't allow her to log in. I heard about this for a long time last night and again today, until finally, I wound up trying to place the order myself. After it was completed, I noticed the address listed was a different address on my street, an address I've never lived at. This despite the fact that I just placed an order to my correct address a few days ago. Furthermore, it's something embarrassing that I would never order and it would arrive at my neighbors' house with my name on it. Fortunately, I managed to cancel the order, (and then because that wasn't complicated enough, I went back to check, saw one of the items was still on order and cancelled that too.) But meanwhile, I had a freak out, with shouting at no one in particular, just the situation. My mother described this as me freaking out over her asking me to do just one thing when she asks so little of me, while my stepfather complained, "Why is he allowed to scream like that, when I'm not?!"

As with my original most, it isn't about this incident. This is nothing. It's that life seems to mostly consist of things like this. I understand why writers and artists who have money go on retreats.