This year, I begin the rekindling of a dream. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic. But it does fit! Hear me out.
At the end of 2021, I put out my very first YouTube video ever. We’ll discuss similar things, so if you prefer a visual/audio format, click on the thumbnail above or the link below. It has a few art time lapses to watch while listening!
But, why put out a video? And why “rekindle” a dream? Because I’ve decided to level up my artwork. As you can see, sure I do commissions and get paid to do portraits and pet portraits (some of which have brought people to tears… true story). But I had specific goals with art when I was younger, and I’m simply not there yet. As with everyone, there are some things I’m very strong with, and some things I struggle with. I’ve decided to take a trip back through the basics to get better in any weak areas I can find. This will help all of my artwork. But, it will help my illustrations in particular.
In addition to leveling up my art skills, I will also be building a community and working to put out my own projects and products. This will range from tutorials, to my own custom games, stories, and story settings, and related fine art/illustrations.
All of these things relate back to when I was young. You know, back when we all had time to do hobbies and did not have jobs or obligations to interfere. I can’t remember precisely when I started drawing, but I always remember doing artwork. But, I was also very big into making my own things… stories, settings, characters, games. I remember working with a friend as a little kid to make a Star Trek board game. The game was simple, but it was custom, unique, and fun. Later on I made or started work on various games or story settings.
I remember the first time I ever played a pen and paper role playing game… I was only eight, but within a week I made my own from scratch. It had rules, characters, artwork, and a story. Somehow I still have a copy of this after all these years.
Creating things has always been intrinsic to who I am, and artwork has always been the cornerstone of that. Along the way, however, I kind of lost that focus. It should have been my focus from the beginning, sticking with it through college and beyond.
However, when I entered college, I was pushed away from art due to family fear of the “starving artist”. I had put a lot of time in trying to figure out what to do with my life. All of the things I wanted to do involved and required artwork. But the fear of the starving artist was relentless, and so I eventually gave in. It’s a decision I still regret today.
Worse, I figured if I could not do what I loved, then I would instead do something that made good money. That was a mistake. Worse, I gave up drawing for the first two years of college. I found myself getting down and upset, but not knowing why.
One night I had a dream that opened my eyes. I was looking at myself from a third person perspective. I was sitting at a drafting table with a little light and I was drawing a picture. I have no idea what the picture was – but that wasn’t the point. The point of the dream is that I needed to draw. I needed to create. It did not matter what. I woke up knowing I had to start again.
This was a long time ago, and began a long journey. Often times I’ve had to set aside my art for the sake of my wife and kids, whether to spend more time with them or to take a difficult job with long hours. I want to be clear, I would never sacrifice my family for my artwork. But the real truth is, I shouldn’t have to. Instead, I should be sacrificing those other things that unknowingly steal your time. Like scrolling Facebook, getting lost watching new and exciting things on YouTube, or playing games too long. Essentially, being inefficient and unfocused.
Life does not always go in a straight line. Every time I made significant progress, something would come along and get in the way. Normally this was a job that suddenly exploded in work requirements, making me work far past when everyone else at my household went to sleep. But I’ve worked myself to a better situation, while still working on my craft. And now, I feel I finally have the work situation figured. I can finally step back and reassess where I’m at, and push my art and creative pursuits to a new level.
Now, I’m not completely new to artwork. I had talent before, and I managed to work myself to a position where I do commissions – portraits, pet portraits, and custom illustrations – despite the other demands in life. Now it’s time to make this grow.
Throughout these commissions, or my personal work, I can see areas where I struggle. Perhaps I should have been able to complete the project faster. Perhaps there are areas where I could have done better. Perhaps both. Equally important, I want to create my own projects in addition to commission work.
So my first major goal is to level up my artwork. My goal is not to “survive” or just be “OK”… I want to thrive. I want to be a master artist. I don’t care to be better than anyone else; I just want to be the best I can be. I know this is a life long process. I’ll accomplish this through a personalized home-based curriculum I developed. Some of these resources I’ll be using are free, some are paid. I’ll discuss another video where I show you details on what I made for my lesson plan and the logic behind it.
This curriculum will not be easy to complete. What I love most about it, is that it gives me goals to accomplish. Sometimes with art, it can feel like you are not making progress. Having small goals will give me the feeling that I am making progress. The curriculum also gives me the piece of mind that I know what I need to do and that I have the resources identified to do it.
Along the way, I want to develop a community of people who can support and encourage each other. I firmly believe there is room for all of us to be at our best and thrive. This is my 2nd goal.
This goal is actually also related to a childhood dream. You see, at a very young age I was frustrated that I did not have any real art mentors. I would have loved to have solid art teachers or friends who were really into artwork and never let go. But that is not how life likes to go…
I had some art teachers who could have been mentors to a point, but it simply did not work out. Actually, one teacher I remember being especially hard on me. I’d see him comment to a person next to me (who did not like art and was not good), which would be “Wow, that’s very good!”. He’d come to mine, right next to the other student, and say “Oh, you messed this up. This line isn’t straight. This doesn’t look right. You should do this again.” I was very self-aware enough to see that mine was better. Little did I know that he was trying to push me. We discussed this later. What a foolish kid I was! If only I knew. He saw that I had talent, but he did not warn me that he would be harder on me to push me.
My reaction as a kid was that the teacher obviously didn’t know what he was talking about, so I never took more classes from him. I feel bad about that – he was trying. I just wish I knew. I actually job shadowed this same teacher eight years after that moment, and found he had kept some of my artwork as examples for other students. He was super cool and I really regret not taking more of his classes. Maybe I would have had more art friends too. This resulted in me taking very few art classes in high school.
Friends could also be mentors, or at least peers that help motivate you. I had one good art friend as a kid. I remember being amazed at how he drew muscles, warriors, and …warrior angels. He was big into fantasy work like I was. But, we lost touch after high school. We connected later on, but he moved on from his awesome artwork.
From family, I heard a lot fear about starving artists. Not exactly a way to motivate me. I don’t run from fear, I run towards hope.
Despite all of this (or lack thereof), I knew it was possible to make a living as an artist. I figured I would find a way to make it, then I could come back and be a guest speaker to art classes and encourage kids that they can reach their goals and I could give ideas on how to do so.
But, as they say, life doesn’t go as planned. I made conscious sacrifices to be with my family, and I am glad I did. So this blog, and whatever other platform I get on will have to do; both in helping myself and also to help encourage others.
My third goal is where I “rekindle a dream”. I am developing my own project / world setting / story. I am doing this alongside my studies and commissions, though I’ll be more focused on studies at the beginning. This will give me something I can use to apply what I learn, while also creating something new. This will fulfill that childhood dream of making something of my own. Long term, this could be something truly amazing.
If that sounds interesting to you, make sure to follow. Join me for the ride. Or, perhaps join in… perhaps you can rekindle your own dreams, and begin creating again as well.
Note that for now, I do not have a newsletter setup. The best places are to check in on this blog every so often, but more likely follow me on any of the following, all of which have notifications:
Frankly, I am still debating on the best place to grow a real community. Please comment below if you have any thoughts. I am very interested in free speech and a place that won’t get canceled out of hand or based on ever changing opinions on what is correct and Ok. For now, we are on Discord. This may change; I am also researching MeWe and other options.
And you can view my prints available here:
I’d love to hear from you below. Leave a comment… Do you have dreams or goals you had to leave behind? Is there a dream you want to rekindle? Are you working on your art skills again? What are you struggling with? What are your goals?
With that, take care, and God bless!