Not so long ago I decided to redraw an old artwork that I drew back in 2014 and see how my skills had improved since then. During the past 6 years I’ve been absorbing information about drawing and coloring techniques, trying to build step-by-step instructions about how to draw and color fast and efficiently. I’ve been studying human anatomy, basics of composition and color theory. I’ve been collecting arts of my favorite artists, carefully watching timelapses of their works in attempts to understand their way of thinking. I’ve been building a visual library and trying to keep myself inspired and motivated. I also created my own art. Not that much though. I did mostly sketches that sometimes became line arts. But I rarely proceeded with coloring in my personal artworks because apparently, it’s out of my comfort zone. And when I had to color for a client it took a lot of effort for me to overcome the fear of spending too much time on the process. I thought I was doing it wrongly and inefficiently. 

I decided that it’s time to face my fear and make a colored piece of art for myself. And that’s when I decided to redraw this portrait and apply all knowledge that I had gained over the past years. When the sketch was done, I started planning a color palette and the way I was going to color the picture – the coloring technique.

I was stuck. I needed a clear instruction of how to color. But I didn’t have one. By now I know so many ways of how to approach coloring and I keep asking questions: should I work on one layer or block colors on separate layers? Should I color a line or keep it black? Do I actually need a line or should I work only with color? Hard or soft shadows? Or a combination of them? How many light sources should I use? Should I add additional hue to skin or not? Maybe make the artwork monochrome? Etc., etc. I know how other artists solve the problem of applying color. But when it came to my personal approach, I had no idea what I should do to make the process comfortable and to get the result that I would like. All knowledge that I had was only theoretical, not practical. I had never repeated any technique that I liked from A to Z. I had a naive belief that all those techniques would magically absorb into my mind and I would be able to pick a necessary one when required. 

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead, I realized that I had got into a self-set trap: I felt unqualified, thus I decided to learn theory. I didn’t pursue practical tasks because I didn’t want to produce what I believed would be shitty art. And because there was no practice, I didn’t have a chance to build my own problem-solving approach. I believed in the idea that every single work of mine must be a perfect masterpiece of art. The fact that a lot of work should be done before a masterpiece is born was ignored. Moreover, I forgot how to experience fun from the process. Instead of being playful like a kid who’s exploring the world, unconsciously I chose to be paralyzed. My desire to make everything perfect held me back from the intense progress which I could have achieved if I had tried new things. I’ll never know how high my skills could have been today, if I had practiced more. I’m a bit sad about it, but I can’t change it. Thus, there’s no sense to stay in this mood.

Perfectionism is a bitch. You think you’ll be able to achieve it someday. And that will be the Day when you allow yourself to start doing what you like to do. But the trick is that there’s no absolute scale which tells you what is perfect and what is not. You’re chasing after a ghost. You lose energy and motivation. Instead of enjoying the process of expressing yourself and being creative, you’re sparring with an invisible enemy and, what is worse, losing in this battle. Why not consider the process as a game and just play it? Inevitably, your skills will be developed if you create regularly. And inevitably, you’ll succeed in what you do and become qualified and confident about your skills. 

So, why suffer? Just play the game.

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