A Crisis of Confidence

by thisnorthernboy

I’m 239 days into my project to draw one robot every day for a year. Naively, I thought that by now I’d have transformed into a capable illustrator. The truth is a long way from that.

I’m really no better than when I started. Looking back at my last week or so’s drawings – there’s nothing I couldn’t have done eight months ago. In fact I’m not even sure I’m doing much that I couldn’t have done 20 years ago. It’s pretty tough realising that I’m such a long way from where I want to be, but… I think I just expected way too much.

I started the Droid A Day project to make sure I drew every day, and to try to become a better artist, or illustrator. For the previous 20 years I’d barely drawn anything, I don’t know why not, somehow I’d just stopped drawing. I’d gone from a kid who drew all the time, to a bloke who never picked up a pencil. If people had asked me during those 20 years what my hobbies were, I’d still have said drawing. It was like a blind spot. Now I’m here, trying to become an illustrator, hoping at some point to be good enough to be doing this for a living – and those 20 years weigh so heavily on my shoulders. 20 years of missed opportunity. 7,300 days of missed practice.

I think that 7,300 number is important. It’s a big number, and it’s an awful lot of drawing missed. It puts in perspective the 239 days I am into this project. I’m kidding myself if I think that doing a robot drawing every day for a few months is going to turn me into an illustrator. It’s definitely better than doing nothing, but it’s not the panacea I thought, and hoped, it might be.

What I need, I think, is more structure to my drawing. I think I need, in effect, to educate myself – to teach myself to draw. The difficulty will be in critiquing my own work, deciding where I need to change or improve, deciding when I’m deserving of a gold star, and when I need a detention.

There are a lot of resources out there for someone who wants to improve their drawing skills – YouTube videos, Tumblr feeds, art technique books, anatomy references… So I just need to make a start, decide what needs fixing first.

Perhaps there are bad habits I need to unlearn, maybe I don’t look closely enough, maybe I’m too impatient when I draw…

The Droid a Day project will continue. I’m not prepared to throw that away, so there’ll definitely be 126 more robots, but I’m going to have to supplement that with some other drawing. Exercises, life drawing, sketching, perspective work…

I made a mistake of thinking that because I was good at drawing as a kid, that I’d get really good again if I put a bit of effort in. Actually, I need to put a huge amount of effort in (and not just for 365 days) to make up for those lost 20 years.

I want to be an illustrator. Starting from now.