Today I turn 30. I thought I would go into what my art has meant for me over the last year, and why I have tried to so consistently post work on here.
With a looming 30th birthday I started to reflect on my life. While in a lot of senses I have done a lot of interesting things and made some very meaningful steps forwards emotionally and intellectually, I have always found my art to be the part of my life that I was frustrated I did not achieve more. There were a lot of reasons for this but the most straightforward was the belief that I lacked the talent to do anything meaningful and the subsequent lack of confidence to prove that idea wrong.
A friend of mine, several years older, had said he had used his 30th birthday as impetus to get into shape. This inspired me, and I decided a year ago that I would try and make as many strides forwards with my art in the year leading to my 30th as I could. I wasn't sure what I was going to achieve but I at least wanted to feel as if my art was in a place I could take some pride in it. I uploaded every piece I completed with a commentary so that I could reflect back on it later while also going out of my way to jump all over the place in terms of approach and style, because to me this was never about creating pieces, it was about the chronicle of my progress.
This last year has been one of huge change. The first half was the end of a downward spiral that had taken everything from me, in a pretty literal sense. I took up the challenge because at the time my laptop and tablet were all I had and I could pretty much not afford to do anything else. That was where the art of 2k15 came from I would dedicate hours to pieces, agonize, restart, abandon. I hated how hard it was for me, I took no pride in my art or myself. To top it off, a few months in, around April, my tablet pen broke and I was left unable to do anything.
After a series of very unpleasant events I was able to get back on track. I got a job, moved into a new place with people I don't hate, bought a tablet off a friend of mine and around November got back on track. The art from this period is different, generally quicker and rougher as I use what precious little time I have after my 9 to 5 job to do all the typical 'adult living' junk but insisting I keep going even if it was tiring.
And something changed. All of a sudden I could see it. As I hit New Year and started redrawing stuff from a year ago I was shocked. All the time, all the study and frustration, had started to pay off. Sometimes it wasn't visible in the final product but I could feel it. It would be achieving a piece in an hour that previously would take me 4. It was being happy with sketches. It would be trying new things out and getting why it worked. It was seeing my flaws, not being content in hiding behind certain things. I was enjoying my art and the progress felt like it was worth all of it. Even the feedback I got improved, from both strangers and artists I consider my superiors.
So now I am 30. Am I where I want to be artistically? Honestly, not really... though I wonder if I ever knew what I wanted to begin with.
But do I feel as if I am making progress? More than I could ever have dreamed.
Right now I am a hurricane of influences and approaches. Occasionally I hit that sweet spot of focus and achieve close to where I want to be, most of the time I just bash at the page until something works. But through at all I can feel the process tighten, the flow more natural, the edge more sharp. I get excited at the idea of creating a new piece, sometimes I will create two in a night. I keep posting up my pieces even knowing no one really cares, because to me looking back on a timeline of images and the steady progress visible through them has completely changed my outlook on art and my participation in it.
Today I am 30. I don't feel different. Maybe my art doesn't reflect my age, I wasted so many years. But I am content that the me now is still growing and so is my art, and that I wouldn't have made this progress without the life I had lead. And finally I am starting to make peace with it all.
A year from now I wonder where I will be. I've never been one to look ahead, to be excited about the future. But now that I am looking back from the milestone that I set for myself a year ago I finally get it. I suppose that is what art means to me.