I wasn't going to do a new year's resolution because I am way too cool to participate in lame conformist stuff like that, or I am always resolving to improve myself, or some such bullshit like that. But then I remembered that I had obsessively figured out which days of the year I have never posted a livejournal post in the shamefully long history of this blog, so I figured I would try to post on those days so I guess that will be my resolution this year. There are the 38 following dates:
You see today is not one of them and I don't even get any overtime for posting on other days so I'm pretty sure this demonstrates what a truly good person I am. If I stick with this, this means at least 39 posts this year, which is more than four times what I did last year. Oh and I should mention I am waaaaay good at following through with things.
But so remember that time in high school when I thought I wanted to draw a lot, until I got distracted by something else, but then I thought I'd like to try again, but I was too lazy, and then I thought I should get back into drawing, but also I've got some other things I'm working on but anyway this time I thought I'd give it a try and so after all these years it occurs to me that I DON'T REMEMBER HOW. I can get better by practice but I don't actually look at the world around me, I mostly navigate by a highly developed sense of anguish, so I guess I can't just sit down and depict what something looks like.
So I got shamed into trying some actual art lessons, where you train skill instead of just doodling whatever comes to your mind until it turns into a cartoony tentacle monster. The first assignment consists of drawing two pages of lines, two pages of circles, and four pages of boxes in varying perspectives. (A little less straightforward than that, but you get the idea.) Actually training. And even in the first hour or so of trying this, I've learned a lot about myself, both in how I draw and an extension of that to myself as a person.
Probably the biggest thing, that I already know about myself and is one of my very least favorite traits but is once again rearing its ugly head, is that I don't do things to do them. Or even to get the end result of what I'm doing. I do them to get them over with. This is probably just about the worst philosophy anyone can have about being alive in general, and pretty terrible in all kinds of specific cases. It's almost surely the hugest factor behind everything I consider to be my failures or lack of accomplishments, as well as probably having pretty negative effects when present in society at large. So this wasn't news to me, but I did get to focus on how it was interfering with my drawing skill. Once I think I have a thing I want to draw, I just want it to be drawn. This clearly isn't the case for a lot of the time when I'm doodling or painting or what have you, but whenever I'm working on a comic or otherwise trying to complete some task that I wanted to have done, all I want is for it to be done. To the exclusion of trying to actually do it correctly, or well. It's not even so much that I don't take the time to carefully execute the drawing, it's that I'm not even paying attention to what I'm doing, I'm trying to get it over with. Not always, there's plenty of drawing I enjoy, but it's the reason why the first panels of my comics are almost always much better and more carefully drawn than the last, and why the backgrounds are laughable if they exist at all. And the instructions for this drawing exercise explicitly state to take your time, try to do them well. And I kept catching myself trying to get them done.
More specifically to drawing, and maybe an offshoot of the above trait, is that apparently I don't look where I'm drawing. I'm not actually a terribly visual person. At least, my visual memory isn't actually very precise. And my visual imagination – I may think of an image in general, but I really can't conjure up a picture in my head in enough detail to be able to draw it. I don't know where body parts are actually located, where light comes from, where things are located in reference to each other in space. I react to this information in everyday life without needing to be aware of it, and I don't take the time to explicitly plan out what I'm doing to draw – not just failing to do a layout, but also I just don't always watch what I'm doing. I'll start drawing a circle for a head and just look at the point where I'm starting and not at the space where the head is supposed to be. So it's usually not placed correctly in relation to anything around it, or I run out of room, and usually I don't even end up with a circle because I don't pay attention to where my pen is going. I just think, 'circle!' or even worse, 'head!' and expect it to happen. This is what you do once you have gone through the training so that your body just knows how to do the things your head wants. It does not work when you still have to tell your body how to do the thing your head wants. So this is some combination of inattentiveness and impatience. I definitely see this impatience pop up in many places – rather than prepare thoroughly for something, I expect to just wing it. I don't even think I'm that particularly quick-witted, but I at least seem to have some ability to improvise and figure a few things out on the spot, which has saved me the trouble of ever studying for tests or preparing for presentations or interviews or anything like that. I just figure I'll figure it out at the time. And it's worked just well enough to keep me from being forced to change it, and no better.
Another aspect of this impatience that pops up in drawing might be described as 'easily bored' but I actually suspect that's not quite the case. I think I easily get sick of things, but it's a little bit different than being bored. Or maybe they are the same thing. But I start drawing 250 boxes, and once I've done 10 I think, I've already drawn boxes. I want to draw something else. I don't want to just do the same thing over and over again, even though I need to in order to learn how to do it correctly and well. But as soon as I start recognizing patterns, I start looking for ways to circumvent them or change them. I generally try to reserve this for trivial things like drawing boxes rather than for useful life circumstances where I am stuck in a rut or otherwise repeating the same pattern. Those I can do for the rest of my life, whether or not I notice it. It's just when repetition might be useful that I try to be too cool to be that boring.
And finally, I actually don't have very good fine motor control.
I'd actually gone through what I considered a very positive change of coming to focus on the process of drawing. This was largely to save myself from giving up from not being good enough, from jealousy and frustration and self-judgment. I mostly turned drawing and art in an activity that I like to do, apart from the particular results. And you'd think that would save me from the problem of just trying to get something done. But I guess I'm still working on implementing both subroutines at once: working towards a goal in an effective manner, while still exploring along the way. It doesn't seem to work quite the way I think it should, at least in this situation: you're supposed to do lots of exploration early on, when you don't yet know what works. Then explore less and exploit what you've learned more. Maybe it's just that in drawing, effective methods of exploring have been figured out already and those aren't what I'm doing. I don't seem to often learn from my drawing. Maybe I'm mistaken and I'm not actually exploring very much. I recognize mistakes and problems with what I draw, but I don't experiment sufficiently to find out why, what different effects trying different things has. So these lessons are certainly more exploration than exploitation – pages of boxes and lines are not really a finished product I desire – but they're actually exploration, instead of running around in the same little area. I'll definitely get better at drawing the more I do it, and I do the process of just sort of messing around. But if I'm just messing around drawing the same things the same way over and over again, I'm not really exploring or learning. And if I'm just trying a new thing every day just because it's different from what I did yesterday, I'm not really gaining anything out of this variety.
Now I need these lessons for absolutely everything else about my entire life.