Celebrate the Process – Lessons from #makingarteveryday

One of the things drawing every day has taught me is the importance of embracing the creative process over the final outcome. I’ve been aware of this concept for a long time, but it’s only through experiencing it myself through consistent daily practice that I’ve really started to internalize it.

Creating everyday at a consistent, high level is often just not possible. Some days I have better ideas than others. Some days I’m sick. Some days I’m hurting. Some days my mind is distracted by other things. Some days I give up halfway through a piece. Some days I’m just really tired. But I’m learning that the individual pieces are just stepping stones in my journey as an artist. They don’t matter all that much. What does matter is the progress those pieces help me to make over time and the improvement I see in the long run.

This year, I’ve gone from not creating digital artwork at all to creating small pieces I’m proud of quite regularly. I’ve gone from being clueless about how to use the ProCreate app to confident enough that I don’t have to think about the technical aspects of the drawing process, it feels natural. I’ve gone from total creative stagnation to a growing list of pieces I want to create. It’s Day 149 of the challenge, and I’ve seen significant changes since January 1st.

On days a drawing doesn’t turn out, or I don’t finish it and don’t ever intend to, it doesn’t bother me so much anymore. Creativity and life are cyclical, sometimes that’s just how it is. Instead, I measure my progress more by what I’ve learnt from each piece, rather than by the final outcome.

I can create a piece that is total crap and still have learnt something during the process. I practice my craft, I make happy mistakes, I learn lessons and gain valuable insights.

Instead of asking “Is this piece any good?” or “Am I happy with the result?”, I’m starting to ask different  questions.

Areas of Focus

  • Did I come across any weaknesses (perspective, anatomy, values) that I can focus on improving through further study?
  • Did I improve upon an area of weakness while working on this piece and gain any new insights?
  • Was I able to bring any recently learned lessons into the creation of this new piece and what effect did they have?

Tools & Media

  • What tools or media did I use?
  • Did I learn something new about those?
  • What worked or didn’t work?
  • Did I try a new colour scheme or colour combination I haven’t tried before?
  • Did I learn something about the media I created with, did I discover new effects or learn something about how the media behaves that I can replicate and use in future?
  • Did I discover or try out any new techniques?
  • Was I able to refine an existing technique, even if just through practice?
  • Did I make any interesting mistakes that led to new discoveries? Maybe even a new effect or technique I can reuse? Are there mistakes I can avoid in future?

Big Picture & Learning from Mistakes

  • What did I learn while creating this piece?
  • Where did I see improvement over past pieces?
  • Even if the picture didn’t work out as I hoped did I still learn something that could help me improve on this piece if I attempted it again?
  • If I drew the same picture again would I take a different approach?
  • Did I learn something that will help me create better pieces in the future?

When approached like this, no drawing is ever a failure. It’s just a lesson. It’s a small piece in a larger body of work that ultimately helps me hone my craft and create stronger pieces in the long run. I learn to make the good pieces through creating a lot of pieces. Some are good pieces. Some are crap pieces. Most of them fall somewhere in between.

It’s not the result of those individual pieces that matter, but what I learn about my craft, myself and my creative process in the making. The real magic happens in the process. By embracing it, I allow it to change me. And ultimately, the greatest reward is the larger picture all those pieces are a part of, the act of living a creative life, day to day, which really, is all I ever wanted.

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