Today’s Art (1st January 2017)

Well, it’s a new year and it’s time for a new webcomic mini series! As such, I’m very proud to present the first comic in “Damania Resolute” 🙂 If you want to see some equally cynical comics about Christmas, they can be found here.

But, yeah, when I “resolved” to make art and/or comics every day, it happened in April (nearly five years ago!). If I’d been foolish enough to make this decision on the 1st January, my comics would probably still look like this.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Resolute - Discouraging" By C.A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Resolute – Discouraging” By C.A. Brown

Three Practical Reasons Why Creativity-Based New Year’s Resolutions Are A Very Bad Idea (And What To Do Instead)

2017 Artwork Why New Year Isn't The Time To Make Resolutions

First of all, happy New Year everyone 🙂 Now that I’ve said that, it’s time to get a little bit more cynical. Don’t worry, there are several good reasons for this that I hope will become obvious later and – with any luck – will actually help you to make better creativity-based resolutions. Even though they (hopefully) won’t be “New Year’s resolutions”.

But, yeah, the new year can be a time when people feel driven to make creativity-related resolutions like “I’m going to learn how to draw”, “I’m going to write a novel”, “I’m going to start a webcomic” etc…

There’s nothing wrong with these resolutions. I mean, this blog (and everything on it) wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t made several creative resolutions (eg: making art every day, starting a blog, returning to making webcomics occasionally etc…) over the course of the past few years. However, I didn’t make any of these resolutions on the 31st December or the 1st January!

Here are a few practical reasons why New Year’s Day is a terrible time to make or start any creative resolutions:

1) You’ll have the wrong type of motivation: Many of the best creative decisions that I’ve made have been ones where I’ve either just felt like I had to start a project, or when I’ve been so overcome with curiosity that I’ve thrown myself into a project at the earliest possible opportunity (with at least some planning, of course).

When you feel a really strong drive to do something creative, the idea of waiting until the beginning of a new year just seems unnatural. It feels like you’re wasting time you could be spending working on your cool new creative project.

The reason that I mention this is because it illustrates the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the kind of motivation that can make you spend hours every day making things, without it ever really feeling like it’s a type of “work” or a “chore” . It’s the kind of motivation where you don’t need anyone to remind you to write, draw etc.. because you’re eager to do this anyway, because you feel a sense of purpose and passion for the things you create. This type of motivation doesn’t wait until New Year’s Day.

Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is where you have to be pushed, poked, praised and prodded into creating things. It’s where you tell everyone that “It’s my new year’s resolution to start a novel, to draw every day etc..” and you rely on them to keep nagging, pestering and occasionally praising you about it. It’s where you find ways to punish yourself for not creating things in accordance with your resolution. It’s where you have to bribe yourself into following through with your creative promises.

As you can probably tell, one of these two types of motivation sounds a lot better than the other. One of them sounds a lot more powerful than the other.

So, make sure that you have intrinsic motivation before you make a creative resolution. But, if you have intrinsic motivation, then you probably aren’t going to want to wait until New Year’s Day to get started on your project.

2) You’ll be unprepared: Because the beginning of a New Year is the start of something new and because it’s a time of celebration, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that all of your project will be as exhilarating, hyper-productive and jubilant as beginning it on New Year’s day was.

Creative projects are often long-term things. They’re a marathon, rather than a short sprint. If you have intrinsic motivation, then this can make them easier – but they’re still a marathon. And, although I’m not an expert on the sport of running, I know that not only do marathon runners spend quite a while training before a marathon but they also don’t start the marathon by running as fast as they can. They pace themselves, because they know that they have to keep their strength up for the long run ahead.

What I’m trying to say here is that, during the exciting early days of a project, it can be very easy to think that the project will be easier than it actually will be. It can be very easy to “bite off more than you can chew”. It can be easy to ignore possible problems and pitfalls (eg: if you’re making something every day, you ARE going to have uninspired days sometimes -so, knowing how to deal with them before you begin can be very useful!)

If you wait until you feel ready (and have had a chance to prepare, think and practice), then you’ll have a much better chance at succeeding at your resolution than you would if you started it today just because “it’s New Year’s Day”.

3) You’ll get dazzled by high expectations: When you’re starting a new creative project, high expectations aren’t a bad thing – as long as they are tempered by realistic understanding. This is something that is best illustrated with two examples and, just for the sake of it, I’m going to use writing-based examples.

If you tell yourself “It is my New Year’s resolution to write a bestseller! I will write a masterpiece!“, then I can almost guarantee that you will spend the next 1-4 hours staring at a blank screen and feeling absolutely terrible.

Even if you do eventually manage to squeeze out a few words, they’ll probably only linger on the screen for mere seconds before you furiously delete them in frustration because they can never measure up to the unreachable standards that you’ve set yourself. As any writer will tell you, this is the most effective way to give yourself writer’s block!

However, if you tell yourself something like “This isn’t a new year’s resolution but I’m going to write my first novel, just to see if I can. I hope it will be good, or at least fun“, then you’ll probably end up with a novel.

It may not be a good novel, but it will have taught you a lot about writing. Even if you don’t finish the novel, then you’ll still “win” because it will show you that perhaps you are better suited to writing shorter works of fiction or that you might want to try writing in a different genre, or something like that.

Because you entered into it with lower expectations, there was a lot less pressure and you’ll probably feel like you have more freedom to mess up and to focus on just creating. You’re more likely to see failures as learning experiences – which, ironically, is exactly what you need if you’re ever going to make a masterpiece or a bestseller.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

How To Make Art Every Day – Five Simple Tips

2015 Artwork Art every day sketch

Although I’d originally planned to write exactly the same “to hell with new years’ resolutions!” article that I strongly considered writing this time last year, I suddenly thought about a resolution of my own.

Unlike the pointless masochistic ritual of self-defeating self-denial that many people inflict upon themselves today, I actually made this resolution in April about three years ago. Yes, before it was cool.

What was it? Well, it was simple – “I will produce at least one piece of art every day“. That’s it.

And, surprisingly, I’ve actually stuck to this resolution fairly well since then – and my art has improved significantly as a result. Seriously, I’ve gone from making what looked like childish doodles to making art that could just about vaguely pass for something that you might find in a low-budget indie comic.

So, if you decide to make this resolution yourself (and please wait at least a couple of days, just so you don’t feel like it’s a *ugh* “new years’ resolution” of any kind), I thought that I’d offer you a few basic tips that might come in handy.

If you’ve read my other articles about making art, then there isn’t really anything new here – but I thought that, at the very least, you might like a reminder.

Anyway, let’s begin:

1) Start Small: When I started making art every day back in 2012, my pictures were a lot smaller. In fact, each one was only as large as a quarter of an A4 sheet of paper.

At the time, even making something as small as this seemed like a challenge – but it felt achievable. After all, I only had to fill a quarter of a page with drawings every day.

After a few months, I finally made the leap to making A5-size drawings (and then paintings) every day. Then, earlier this year, I started making A4-size paintings, before finally settling on my preferred size of 18 x 19cm for my drawings and paintings.

Why am I mentioning this? Well, making a piece of artwork every day can seem like an intimidating task at first and, if you expect to make a full-size painting or drawing every day then this is probably going to scare you away fairly quickly. So, start with something smaller and easier and gradually work your way up to larger pictures once you feel more confident.

2) Work fast: Making art takes time and, if you’re new to making art every day, then it can seem like this will be one of those things that will take a huge bite out of your day. So, it’s important to learn how to make art fairly quickly. Ideally, you should spend no more than an hour or an hour and a half on your daily art practice.

There are plenty of ways to do this – in fact, I’ve written a whole article about this subject. But, in short, you should aim to make simpler art that you don’t have to rush, rather than complex art that you end up rushing every day.

Although this might sound limiting at first, it’s a good way of building your artistic confidence and – as time goes on – you’ll find that you’re able to draw or paint simpler things so quickly that you still have time left to add more detail to your pictures.

3) Don’t worry about quality: This might sound counter-intuitive, but if you’re making art every day, then you shouldn’t worry about how good your pictures will be.

Yes, you will produce a lot of terrible art at first – but, the important part of this sentence is “you will produce“. The most important part of making art every day isn’t making good art, it’s actually making art.

You see, if you keep making art every day until it just becomes an “ordinary” part of your daily routine, then your art will start to improve through sheer repetition alone. It will probably happen at a glacial pace that you’ll only notice a few months or a year later when you look back at your earlier art, but it will happen.

However, if you’re a perfectionist and you don’t dare to make art literally every day because you’re worried about the possibility of making bad art, then it won’t.

4) Artist’s block: If you’re making art literally every day, then you’re going to need lots of ideas for new drawings and/or paintings. And it’s only natural that you’re going to run out of ideas from time to time. It happens to us all.

When this happens, you still have to make art. So, it’s good to have a backup plan or two in place – a few “standby” ideas that you can turn to whenever you can’t think of anything new. These can include things like drawing nearby objects, making fan art, copying old paintings, drawing random landscapes or even just making something a bit more random and abstract than usual.

Whatever it is, make sure you have a backup plan for the times you feel uninspired. Because you will feel uninspired occasionally if you make art every day.

5) Post it online: If you’ve got a scanner, digital camera or graphics tablet – one way to make sure that you stick to your commitment to make art every day is to post your daily artwork online, so that everyone can look at it.

You can post it on a blog, on a dedicated art site like DeviantART or even on *ugh* Twitter and Facebook. But, putting your art online makes you feel like you’re actually doing something rather than just scribbling things that no-one will ever look at.

Don’t worry if you feel that your art isn’t “good enough” to post online, I can assure you that it is. In fact, there’s a rule that you must always remember when posting art online that will help you with any anxieties you might feel – “No matter how good or bad at art you feel you are – there will always be better artists than you online… and there will ALWAYS be worse artists too.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂