Sula's Sketchbook
I don't think it's momentum somtimes per say; you could study every day and do quite well at something and not learn one thing; i see you are doing these pretty solid faces all the time, and you don't seem to struggle much with them. maybe try to do something difficult or more complex like a group scene or something that will force you to make more mistakes so you can learn faster!

70+Page Koala Sketchbook: SB

Paintover thread, submit for crits!
[color=rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.882)]e owl sat on an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke.[/color]
Lovely portrait! Only a small nitpick, the nostril on her right (our left) seems to be just slightly misplaced. It's not really worth mentioning, but I did notice it on first glance.
Not sure how much experimentation you are doing, not only subject matter-wise, but also concerning technique (if you want to stick to i.e. portraits). Trying to work in a completely different/new way, or a way you didn't use for a while, or trying to emulate an artist's style/way of working could help break out of walking in circles? Not that you have to adapt to a different style or subject matter or anything, but I think this can help to get a bit of freshness in your art/studies. (Although a change of subject matter is another thing I'd suggest as a way to break free from being stuck)

I like the portrait, makes me want to stroke her hair for some reason (it's so nice and thick and silky).

SketchbookDeviantartArtblog | Portfolio
Every feedback is appreciated!
The portrait is beautiful! The colours are amazing, it's so alive O: And I have to agree with what's already been said before. If you feel like walking in cirkles, try something completely different. Just experiment? If it at first doesn't look pretty that would not matter. When you try some new styles, it gives you new perspective on your original working flow. This doesn't mean you have to change your initial style completely, but you might learn new things simply by broadening your horizon and learn new techniques (even if you might never directly use some again). I think try to pick something you don't feel comfortable with doing yet would be your best choice, as trying to overcome the feeling of insecurity in a certain subject matter will most of the time also break the feeling of being stuck.
@Fedodika: By momentum I mean coming back to the study habit; I do plan to dive into a a couple of complex illustrations this year, but I have a concurrent freelance work that won't allow me to start it just yet. It's coming; Hang in there :)

@Dennis: Oh! Thanks man, I'll fix it when I have the chance.

@Lyn: Complete answer bellow really, because this is turning into a big snowball hehe. I was studying enviros; It was before I hit study #20 people said I should stay out of comfort zone and do characters (lol). Things are getting confusing.

@Eve: Thank you :) again, ranting bellow.

Ok, so uhm, let me try to explain this.
I did work with advertising for around 6 years, as you probably know. I have worked on a variety of styles there, since you can't really have a style for the kind of advertising art I worked with. From generic cel shaded images, to realism with fruits, to digital watercolors, to painting things over 3D renders. I can't post them outside of the studio site as per contract, but that doesn't really matter. I worked emulating other people's style for some years, and hm, I can tell how I like to paint by this point.

The work you see on my sketchbook is closest to the way I liked to personally work.
But here is the problem - working so many with advertising got me usual to unusually high-saturated images and stupid levels of contrast, everything had to shiny and plastic and perfect and over-rendered. It's how they work, and after doing that for so long, it's hard for me to lay down an image without adding some stupid highlight that makes everything look plastic.

I have tried digging as far as I could, and the only conclusion left right now is that it is a painting/rendering problem.
The way I have learned everything I have learned so far is to go over the whole process over and over again, to try to pinpoint my problem, and try different ways until I find one that work. So, since I am practicing an rendering problem, this is what I have been trying to go over; The sketching/composition isn't really the challenge here, as you have all pointed out.

The problem is, I am unable to really get rid of this aesthetics problem I have run into; Every time I state I dislike my art, I really bend in fear that it will really sound I am "attention whoring" or that I am "fishing for compliments", when it's not really the case. My rendering looks very plastic and jelly-like to me, but because of the social implication of asking for feedback for it, it's been incredibly difficult to get real feedback on it. I also know by this stage I am doing minor tweaks, so a lot of people don't even notice the difference.

I am deeply afraid to go into "it's a style problem!" area, because every single pro can tell you chasing a style is chasing your own tail and won't lead you anywhere. But you see, I don't have a go-to style guide right now, and when I do, the feedback I get is to steer away from it. I like Warcarft's style - way too popular. I like Dave Rapoza, Charlie Bowater and Katie de Souza - again, way too popular, I should go seeking "my own voice". But, when I sit down and just let me paint things as I am content with - I am displeased with the outcome.

And I since I have limited time to practice, I was trying to solve this aesthetics problem before going into a full fledged illustration again. I want a whole new portfolio, you know? But I want to at least know I am going in the right direction.
In the end, I need to learn to like my art again, or this won't work. I like this faux-realism style, but I don't have a clear goal. I am trying really hard to find it, but I don't feel artsy enough to go into surreal, I don't feel competent enough to go into full realism; My images simply doesn't hold up. I am trying to see if it is a rendering problem, but I'll probably be back studying structure soon enough. I am already feeling anxious about the spectrum submission I AM going to do next year...

And there was the whole edges incident which is lasting way too long. I still get the "too many hard edges" on some pieces (and even the charcoal ones) when they, to me, looks like a pile of out of focus mess. But edges aren't focus Sula, and yeah, I'm too stupid to figure that one out too.

I was going too long working on this freelance without painting anything for myself, which is why I started painting silly portraits again. I just looking into making it useful and not just "working a bit so I don't get rusty", if that makes sense. Doing comic colors hardly counts as any practice for what I want to do, so, I am feeling very rusty.

Anyway, I am also feeling uncomfortable posting this stuff online. It's been getting harder to get feedback; But If I post stuff like this, I offend people who look up to me, it seems. I can't be negative - but heck, I don't feel like I am being negative for being negative. My art is not working and I am having trouble figuring out why. I don't even know where to ask for help anymore, so i'm coming to the conclusion I should probably hide in my cave and do a lot of soul searching without external interference anyway.

Here is today's study, trying to mash up a couple of refs into one thing and seeing it works. Rapoza, Jana Schirmer, Gil Elvegren, and the infamous Michael Bay Blue © rim light.

[Image: Salvaged-Sketch-82.jpg]

here is hoping this don't explode in my face

I don't really know how to help but i remember will terrell mentioned the kinda thing you're going through in this vid

You'll get through it Sula, and i hear you very well; It's just that you are one of the best on this forum, maybe if you posted on like permanoobs, there are a lot of people who are higher caliber artists there who may be able to give you good (better) feedback.

But honestly i see your like last thing and i just think, "oh that's pretty" i can't critique it, it's just good and that must really suck to hear; it's like how can you develop when everyone can only nitpick little things that won't really help you. You're doing the right thing, just push through it, you will only figure it out in time, i know it sounds frustrating.

i've definately felt little bits of what you're going through. You just get decent at this and alot of the people who comment on this thread are pretty decent as well. It's hard to say what and what not to work on because nothing is blaringly obvious. Improvement at the later stages is just slower and much more frustrating, but thankfully less scary than the beginning. just really try to analyze what people you look up to are doing that you're not doing. tons of people copy the artists you mentioned and still find their own voice so don't get hung up on that.

If you want somebody to say you're not the best, I'll say it, "You're not the best."

Just gotta keep pushing through it that's the only way, and we all love you, well at least i do :). The fact your even having this problem is an awesome thing; it means you're almost... "there."

70+Page Koala Sketchbook: SB

Paintover thread, submit for crits!
[color=rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.882)]e owl sat on an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke.[/color]
I can imagine after working for so many clients after all these years, you can lose sight of why you started doing art in the first place. I think maybe that might be the root problem.

For me personally my childhood revolved around video games. I started out copying stuff from video game booklets; sometimes trying to re-envision some of the characters and improve them. It was the character art in general that I was interested with.

I can't remember how many times I copied stuff from the Diablo1/ff7/DBZ instruction/art booklets and guides. All my early work was horrible, and some of my friends were quick to remind me how bad it really was. Even-though sometimes that got me down, I knew that I wanted to eventually get to a point where I could do something professional looking. I even went as far as to cheat my way through and asked some of my better art friends to do some work for me, so I could show everyone how good I had become, just to show them "Ha, I told you I could do it". Eventually you figure out that doesn't really mean anything if you can't do it yourself.

After playing so many games and copying so many characters from booklets, I wanted to create something of MY OWN. Those were the Rpgmaker days, when people on forums were using that program to create their own games and that lit up my world. I even created that random character generator, so I could make it easier for myself to create original characters.

Anyway, this is why I started up drawing and what got me at least this far; even though I'm not really anything spectacular.

Maybe this is what you might need;if not all of us? To start up your own small/big project. Get down a style you're happy with, plan out your project (even if the goals are not realistic), and work on it for as long as you can, even if it's just an hour every now and then; even if you decide to scrap it later down the road.

I know finding a style is one problem you say you're struggling with you, but I think once you're actually working on your OWN project and not just another illustration, your head will flood with ideas on how you want this particular project to look and feel and hopefully you'll get to a point where you can't stop thinking about this project.

I learned recently that many of us after constant practice/study fall into a pattern that our bodies become accustomed to, and our abilities eventually plateau and we start seeing very little improvement. You know? Like "get up at this hour, do this for 2 hrs, do this for 3 hrs, eat breakfast, etc..". Your body is smart and will eventually adapt, but won't want to go beyond that. Keep your body guessing, mix it up, don't fall into any one particular pattern. Stay fresh.

I hope this doesn't come off sounding like I have the end all solution or that I am any smarter on the issue. I am struggling with my own personal issues just like everyone, but perhaps something here resonates with you.
Hmm I see, didn't know that you were already working so versatile in your studio job before, that kind of makes my advice redundant. Except for 'going back to studies from life/photo maybe, trying to grow your visual library in an attempt to find new or different ways of simplifying things, to hopefully find ways that make you more happy than your current art. You say you're not artsy enough for surreal or good enough for realism, even if that is not your end goal, I think some explorative practice it could still be worth the effort. You never know what you might take away from it (even if it's just a "ok that 'really' is no fun").

Concerning the edges, don't forget that every feedback is just a suggestion, and everybody enjoys a different style/level of realism. What might be too painterly for one might be too realistic for others. It's not always about right or wrong, especially at your skill level. No matter how good or professional someone is, there will always be a person who would prefer it softer, sharper, different. Same with the people telling you what to practice or to get out of your comfort zone (like me :p), take it as a suggestion or a reminder to not fall into a habit of mindless practice - but also keep in mind that nobody knows better than you do what exactly your study schedule or battle plan is. Most of the time it is just a note along the lines of "I see that you are doing a lot of subject matter x at the moment, don't forget to mix things up". In the end it is you who has to decide which route to take and which exercises feel most useful to you at which point. I feel like sticking to a subject until you grow bored of it or hit an unbreakable wall and then do something different, and come back later is a good way to go.

Also, you're not stupid, some things just take time to fall into place in the brain. Different people grasp different things quicker or slower, nobody can get everything at the same rate. I know very well how frustrating that is from my own problem areas though. Don't let this get you down though, just give your subconsccious mind the time to work through it.

It certainly is hard to get meaningful feedback at your skill level without a school environment with similar minded people ... I think it also matters where you post, CD seems like the right place to let off steam or spark a discussion, while I can see how dA or similar might get you offended reactions. Although it always depends on how you frame it, a in-deopth explanation like you posted is a huge difference to a generic "lol my art is shit" combined with a lovely (even if not perfect) portrait or so. Best way to get feedback is to ask specific questions I think, or say what you wanted to achieve with a painting or study. Not much sense to nitpick over a displaced hair if the aim was.. colors. Other than that, putting together a portfolio of a few selected pieces and asking people/individuals/professionals for a general critique (stating what you are aiming for) comes to mind. Do you have any real life art friends with similar goals, which you can discuss those things that bother you with (not meant as a mean question - I myself don't)? Could help, too, and less of a danger of being accused of attention whoring than online. Or a circle of online people you trust and can exchange thoughts and fears with, similar to what's happening in your SB right now. (I'll gladly listen to whatever is bugging you at any time, although someone closer to your level or better than you would probably be of more help, as they might have figured out how to deal with some of those things already).

The portrait is cute, the brownish colors you used this time around the eyes work well I think :)

SketchbookDeviantartArtblog | Portfolio
Every feedback is appreciated!
It's a sign of too much self-consciousness when you realize you're taking offense to another artist struggling to grow. It happens to the best of us, but it's the person who's taking offense's problem, not yours.

If you have an idea of what kind of style you like, I suggest print examples of it out, and tape/hang it right in front of your face where you work, and not as a laptop wallpaper. On the wall. On the lamp next to your desk. So you get constant reminder of "That's where I'm going" at least for this experimental project, or to try out for a while. Do that for every style you want to try out or like. It'll prevent you from slipping back into what you're trained for.

Gods know I feel the same sometimes. I cannot get out of the old school traditional landscape/still life training to do manga style even if I tried my darnest to make a 4-koma.

Painting stuff just to not get rusted is a pretty good reason I'll say. Not painting stuff for a while then trying to start up again is a whole lot harder than if you've been keeping the engine warm.

If you're going the hard route of "seeking your own voice" it's going to be a long trip of keep doing things and at the same time staying open to whatever in life that crosses your path that sparks your "like" button. Then examining what is it you like about that thing. May or may not be art or artists.

Not sure if any of this is useful as I'm not exactly The Enlighten One who's been out of the tunnel...

One last note: JUST DON'T GIVE UP!!!

Another last, last note: look at nature.

@Fedodika: yes! That is my favorite Will Terrel video. I have almost finished portuguese subtitles for it because the message is so important.. I'll try to finish it this month :) Hopefully I will make to the end of this.. sometimes I still think anxiety will get the best of me though. Thanks again <3

@Dennis: Yeah, indeed, I did lost sight of it. I was recently on a talk by an artist I admire very much (Tiago Hoisel: ) and he was talking about respecting your own influences. The idea was almost alien to me, since I have been molding myself to make my skill useful at any cost. It's weird; I though I was never going to get through this phase being a commercial artist.

But in the end, a commercial artist is just an artist too, it seems. No running away from it heh. And yeah, you're not the first one to tell me I need to work on my project. In all honesty - I'm not a writer. Took a me a while to be somewhat decent in art, and I'm scared if i start looking int writing, it will take another 6 to 8 years before I get anything half-decent done. So this is the reason I was avoiding "doing my own thing" in the first place. I don't even really know what my own thing would be; I definitely need to look into that. Probably, as Will Terrel said, the answer is in my sketchbook, I just need to spend more time there.

And YES I'm so going to break the pattern. Thanks for the advice!

@Lyraina: Thanks again <3 But yeah, growing my visual library is a must, you're right. There is this one thing I have been avoiding... I'll just start it (today's study).
And yeah, it was easier to navigate though this when it was "right and wrong", but now it's more "good or better", "works or not" and it got.. cloudy. Didn't go well with insecurity.

I have been missing an environment with more artists even when I worked on the illustration studio. It was frustrating how the people there were more prone to tell me I was working too hard than anything; I never found a partner with similar goals. Most people around my age here are giving up or gave up on art; Now it's just a job, they don't want to get better at it, let alone pursue hard high-reaching goals. Makes me feel like a fool for even trying, but it's all I really have in the end. Giving up is not an option for a long time now, as lonely as it gets. Thanks heavens for Crimson Daggers and my circle of trust on the web, or I'd be running in the dark here.

@Meat: MAN! You know, when I was in Canada for the workshop, it was surprising that people HAD stuff on their wall, you know? It's uncommon here in where I live in. The whole cultural aspect of consuming art/paintings is lacking. Most of the art you see selling here is decorative/abstract... And I'm starting to suspect that makes a difference.
You're right, I'm going to get some prints and hand them around.
And yup, look at nature! Roger. Not giving up either!

You guys are the best, thanks for the awesome words and the time into this awesome replies.
Here, visual library development (please ignore how bad this is, it will take a while to make this work)

[Image: Enviro-26.jpg]

Let me add one other here, since I couldn't make anything worthwhile today. I have a bad cold, everything hurts D:

Also, I think I'm just finally starting to grasp value actually.
[Image: Enviro-27.jpg]

value to me is "this needs to be darker", but i don't wanna cheat... add a little highlight, bam, values.

70+Page Koala Sketchbook: SB

Paintover thread, submit for crits!
[color=rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.882)]e owl sat on an oak. The more he saw, the less he spoke.[/color]
"Loved the portraitt!!!!!!!!!!! sula your doing it , youre finally at that level OMG OMG OMG."
#fanboy Overload

the portrait is awesome ;O

Hanging stuff up is probably indeed a cultural difference. I've been primed into hanging stuff up by my high school art teacher. Some stuff are art, some are photo and magazine cut-outs, and some are postcards I just like the image of. It's a way of inspiring yourself, and to guard against your own human nature of slipping into your comfortable little world.

Friends who tell you you work too hard, or to come out and play, or to take a break, or to go on a trip because "you need to get out more"... etc., are friends good for other stuff that isn't art or growth as a professional artist. Judge it yourself, has it really been almost 2 months since you left your apartment/office/that-same-cafe? Then maybe it indeed is the time to go somewhere different - and how far and for how long you have to judge yourself. Otherwise, kindly thank your friends for their concern and care for you before turning them down, then quickly go back to your trench and stick it out like the Art Marine you are. Even in ancient China scholars already are saying to be above average, to be exemplar, to be truly remarkable, one has got to brace solidarity and a life with few but true friends. And that was before the age of printing press, telephone/graph, and internet. We're much better connected now, and you're never alone.

That castle study has nice, bright, optimistic lighting :) Now I just want to see some tiny knights hanging about bargaining with some farmer or merchants bringing supplies to the castle, and maybe a couple sneaking kisses in the shadows.

@Fedodika: haha maybe, I should have clarified. Value grouping is making more sense. have a set of values for light, and a set of values for shadows and don't let them touch. Makes for an awesome separation, I have been enjoying the effect.

@Foxfire: hahah thank you <3 One step closer I hope!

@Nimao: <3 thank you!

@Meat: Thank you! And yep, ordered some prints yay! ...and I do need a hobby and time out, but that was not what people were arguing about. It's kind sad I see the sharp difference between friends and work colleague - since after I quit I never saw them again. /shrug

Today's overworked sketch (soul searching?)
Not sure if I am going to polish this more or not...

[Image: Salvaged-Sketch-83.jpg]

Been a while since I checked up on you Ursula :) I don't have much to add to what's already been said. I do want to point out (hopefully not too redundantly) that I don't think it's a bad thing to follow a "popular" style if that's something you like. I'm not sure where you are getting advice not to imitate styles that are too popular, because we can obviously see from many amazing artists out there who started off "copying" or following the style of artists they admire who have blossomed into their own amazing unique style. And if other people don't like it, who cares honestly? :)
A lot of what you said is stuff I constantly struggle with but I suck at verbalizing, so I think we all appreciate you putting those feelings out there. Can't wait to see where your stuff goes after all the soul searching!

Really liking your works, definitely one of my fav dagger here, keep it up and don't let anything drag you down ! :)

Shin's Sketchbook ▼ ▼ ▼Patreon ▼ ▼ ▼ dArt
Man, I have been away from this far too long.

that portrait is amazing. Looks really cool, sort of serge birault-ish. If you haven't seen his work (doubtful) look him up and feed your eyes. That castle wall thing also is next level. Really killed it with that one, the values are perfect.

As for the rant you had a few posts ago. The only thing I could suggest (and I don't know if someone said this) is to find what you don't like, and study it like you would a master painting from your favourite artist. Don't want you images to feel concept art-ish? Study concept art, a lot. Try to draw like Feng Zhu.
My theory behind this is that you have found a little nestle between all your favourite artist's style. You are enveloped in Jana's comforting arms, held between Dave's supportive bosom, and its a comfort zone, but the problem is that your comfort zone is so close to where you want to be and where you are that you can't get the perspective you need.
To use a stupid ass analogy like I always do. You've failed to get the thread into the eye of the needle so many times that it is all frayed and you only get a few strands in at a time (Why did I have to do textiles in high school -_-). You need to pull out, lick the end and jam it back in with the precision of a marksman (Okay, that sounded mildly-sexual, but we are all adults here).

Remember that you are a sum of your inspirations and also, when all else fails remember that most people hate their office jobs, and your office is your imagination which is filled with unicorns, and rainbows, and inappropriately sexual seamstresses...

The margin of progress ones make after 2 to even 5 years of time is tremendous. I didn't really go through all the pages I usually check 1~3 pages and the last few, and I gotta say both your digital/graphite improved a lot. Keep at it, Ursula ;D

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