Friday, June 17, 2011

That Other “Thing”

May for me was a month of inconsistent blogging, which kinda of snowballed from April being a month of just barely consistent blogging. I think I have a good reason for that. My brain had been slowly shifting from one gear to another, and this leads me to a question I want to ask you all.

Fellow writers, I know writing is your “thing,” but do any of you have another “thing?” A “thing” that you can be just as passionate about as writing, and maybe even sorta good at if you committed to it as much you did writing?

My other “thing” is art. I like to draw and stuff. Sometimes the things I draw and stuff doesn’t suck. But I’ve never consistently focused on drawing and stuff enough to be consistently good. (At least that’s the reason for it I like to tell myself.) The art thing has always been the thing I’ve pushed to the side. Writing was my main thing. Drawing and stuff was the other thing.

The exact opposite of my relationship to writing, part of why I’ve been inconsistent with the drawing and stuff stems from the fact that I’ve never had much confidence in my artistic skills.

Like any deeply rooted issue worth its salt, I’ve traced this problem back to my childhood. Specifically to Cyclops.

When I was about 12, I attempted to draw Cyclops from X-Men: The Animated Series. Looking at that drawing today, I’m like, “Hey, not bad for kid,” but my junior high self was SO COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY TRAUMATIZED that my Cyclops didn’t look exactly like the Cyclops on my TV screen that from that day forth I NEVER attempted do draw someone else’s character for the rest of my adolescence, and most of my adult life. (And he was my least favorite X-Men. Imagine if I’d tried to draw Gambit! I would have never picked up a pencil ever again!)

There’s the culprit. The rat bastard.

Basically, I’ve had a restricting, I’m-going-to-fail-and-fail-miserably type of fear when it comes to drawing ever since. It has kept me from practicing as much as I should have because instead of taking the (minimal) risk and going for the gusto, I’ve often given up on it on the first indication that I wasn’t going to be any good at it. More often, that mentality has kept me from even starting a project, or even a sketch.

It’s a habit I’m trying to break. As Fran from Strictly Ballroom would say, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” I think the best way to break that mentality is to actively work on the mechanics and basic skills that I’m lacking so that I don't have lack of skills" as an excuse to suck and therefore an excuse to give up.

The other best way is to stop thinking about it and just do it.

So I’m making this my summer of art. Starting last month, I’ve enrolled myself in drawing boot camp, a summer intensive if you will. (Of course, I don’t actually have any money for such a thing so it’s just me at the kitchen table with a sketchbook and a selection of books about drawing). I feel I owe it to my other thing to let it have a turn at being the main thing.

Summer goals:

· Draw everyday (Well, every weekday. The weekend is reserved for writing.)

· Improve at drawing the head, face, and expressions

· Ditto hands and feet

· Finally learn perspective beyond 1-point, now that I seem to have found a book on the topic that doesn’t make my eyes cross.

Hopefully by the end of summer my level of suck will have significantly decreased. And perhaps more importantly, I hope to have made such a habit of drawing from doing it every day that the thought of a blank canvas doesn’t make me want to run in the opposite direction as fast as humanly possible.

The result of my decision to do this, though, is that my blogging may continue to be erratic these next couple of months. For once, I’m putting my other thing on the front burner, but if all goes well, by the end of it I’ll have learned out how to let my two things co-exists equally.

And because my pride won’t allow me to have Cyclops up there as the only representation of my drawing, here’s something a little more recent:

Still much room for improvement, but - le sigh - isn’t there always?


  1. Cacy, I think that's a fantastic drawings. Both of them, in fact! Even now, if I sat down and spent hours trying to draw Cyclops, I don't think it'd be half as good as what your 12-year-old self did! Good luck with this new endeavour. I'm sure you'll keep improving!

    Also, I watched that show ALL the time. I'm a Beast and Wolverine fan. :D

  2. Thanks!

    Don't forget about Spider-Man. Came on right after!