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Over the years, many people have asked me for how long I've been drawing. While it's true that I started drawing as soon as I was able to hold a pencil, I was never that serious about it. In a sense, you can ask yourself if I was any serious on art altogether. Because, in the end, all kids draw. I think most people can remember making drawings in grade school. Because it's something kids do naturally. Depicting the world around them with images. The beautiful thing is that kids have no fear. They just draw whatever they like, and are usually happy with it. It isn't until the age of 10 or 12, that the outside world suddenly expects you to be either good at something, or stop doing it. It's at that age that we become self cautious about drawing. And therefore it's around that age many kids eventually stop drawing. 

I came to that age as well. I have to admit... it kicked in a little late on me. 
For those that wonder what I'm talking about; those are the 2 years I stopped drawing, as shown in my improvement meme.

Little before that, I too had reached a point on which I didn't see any improvement anymore.
I'd seen countless of amazing artists on the internet by then. I'd seen countless of things I wish I would be able to paint at that time. But I wasn't. I just drew the same thing over and over again, and expected my skills to magically get better. Needless to say; they didn't. And I was frustrated by it. So frustrated that I spend the next two years away from the drawing table, writing 2 whole books. The two years of writing did make me realize something, though. Opposed to drawing, in my writing I was completely fearless. I just wrote, experimented, and twisted things around. At the end of those 2 years... my writing style changed tremendously. I had become much better.

When I picked up drawing again, in 2010, I decided it was time for a different approach. As hard as it was, I decided that I needed to be as fearless in art as I had been with writing.
My skills were initially rusty, and the first drawings looked like crap. And that basically forced me to change my approach. No more how-to-draw manga books, but books on real anatomy. No more trying to figuring out colors on my own, but learning from tutorials and from books that contained actual information about color theory. A lot of books. Because every book or tutorial held a different approach to art. And I took from every method whatever I liked or whatever I found easy to remember. 

You know... improvement in itself is a tricky thing. It's often so slow that it goes by unnoticed. 
In order to keep track of it, and to keep myself motivated, I started the sketchdump project. The plan was that collecting sketches with a regular interval, and putting them together, would make me see my own improvement over time. And it did. It wasn't a matter of a few weeks or months, however. The first time I was able to see how far I had gotten, was early 2012. That's a full year later after I started the project, indeed. 

I think it was at the end of 2012 that I looked back at old works that I liked and thought: "Hey, I could do that too". 
And a year after that, I thought: "But I could do that even better!"
But as your artistic standards tend to grow with your own skill, even now I have plenty of artists that I can't compare to in the sense of skills.

Back in the days, when I looked at time-lapse video's that good artists made, I used to be frustrated over the fact that I saw what they did, but didn't understand it. I always assumed they had some kind of magical talent-thing that allowed them to magically know what brush strokes to make and what colors to use. Because I, myself, couldn't figure that out. When I look at it now, I understand the things that they could "see" (and I couldn't) were a difference in experience. I can remember using a full grid to draw faces, when I just started out. I can now draw faces without complex guidelines, because I've done that so many times the guidelines have basically burned into my memory. I now often think it's fun to try recreating poses from my old sketches, just for the fun of it. To see how much easier it got since the last time I tried it. Because that's basically what experience does. It makes hard things become routine, so your brains gain space for storing new things.

I know out here, there are many artists that are just like I was back then.
Artists that want to get better, but don't know how. Artists that are hopelessly stuck on art. That probably drew the same thing over and over again, and are frustrated that it didn't get better. Or just aren't able to see their own improvement. To them I have 2 words of advice: be fearless and patient. Be fearless enough to try a new approach on art when yours doesn't work out. And be patient enough to know that improvement doesn't come overnight. It's a slow thing.
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:icont3chintersectart:
t3chintersectart Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2015
I always wished I would have been doing more drawing when I was around 8-12. I never really did draw, sort of odd then I suppose.

You have a great story as well! sketchdump was a great idea too.
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:iconscullymeister-3:
scullymeister-3 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Holy shit dude. This is SOOO HELPFUL! I instantly bookmarked this. Thanks so much for writing this journal!Hatsune Miku-10 (Appreciate) 
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:iconpeterlepan:
PeterLePan Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Such a beautiful journal Crying Emote - DragCave great advice for beginners and experts alike
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:iconmidgetshinigami:
MidgetShinigami Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014  Student Writer
Words to live by at the last bit. I need to remember that.
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:iconwhetsit-tuya:
Whetsit-Tuya Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014  Student Filmographer
I started with a How-to-Draw Manga book, definitely something you need to avoid, I focus on human anatomy: skeleton/muscles
I'm an animator/writer, it's an eternal dedication and you never stop learning, and no matter how unhealthy your brain is if you're dedicated enough you can be successful
I get innovation from inspiration and it gives me motivation
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:icondiechabos:
DieChabos Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Hobbyist
Well.. i was kinda down just now. I often look at other people's work and then i get frustrated too. As for that i never watched a tutorial or even read a tutorial book. Yeah.. But this just motivated me. I am just 12 right now,and i got much time to get better in drawing~ so yeah. Thank you so much for this. I look up to the next years now. Farewell.
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:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:hug:
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:iconjigokuone:
jigokuone Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for lighting me 
well try to be more patiant and fearless
and practice more :)
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:iconrabidglitch:
Rabidglitch Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014
You write very well. I am wondering if you self taught yourself writing..
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:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Kind of.
I've been writing ever since I was a kid. But most of it was in Dutch, since it's my first language.
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:iconrabidglitch:
Rabidglitch Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014
Very cool
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:iconmjdisneygirl:
MJDisneyGirl Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh my, that was so incredibly inspiring. Thank you so much. Huggle! 
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:iconengie-delane:
Engie-DeLane Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Student Writer
Referring to my comment on A Thing or Two About Style, I am not mainly artist and, like you said in the first paragraph, I am not serious enough about it to take classes (yet?), but I keep all my drawings in notebooks and folders and have them in consecutive order by dates. I love looking at my old art and seeing how far I have come from my atrocious Box Children just by practicing and changing small things; they actually look like people, with noses and irises and five fingers and joints and curves now. And I opened requests to get even more practice with characters so different from the ones I know by heart.
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:iconkibbles518:
Kibbles518 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Student Filmographer
This pretty much sums up my life in art in the past and probably a little right now. ^^; I know it takes a lot of patience and time in order for my style of art to improve and just in general to improve. But even when i'm momentary stuck on my drawing i usually end up writing to take my mind off of things so i can come back like a day later with a new motivation. But i'm glad i read this it makes me realize some things that i know that i just out of frustration i have pushed it to the back of my mind so i thank you for the small pep talk. I have to say i really enjoy reading your journals it helps me root myself again when i really need it. ^w^ So just like you said i'll be patient and keep trying to find techniques and studies that will help me improve!! (: 
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:iconrahul808:
rahul808 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for posting such a wonderful article, I was confused, and then after reading this I felt so much motivated, now I am trying to figure out a way for myself. English not the native language, so trouble expressing myself, sorry.
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:iconfrankzo:
Frankzo Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014
Thanks you for this, I started to draw in 2013 and sometimes I feel pretty sad about my art, but I know with effort and hard work I'll make it.
People used to laugh about my art in school, so I felt pretty sad in these days and I stopped to draw, I thought that art was a talent or something like that.
I'm still insecure to post my drawings on dA because I want them to be good not only for me, for the viewer too.
Oh yeah I know we all gonna make it, not tomorrow, not in a week, these things take time. The worst feel about this is "Oh yeah I think I'm improving, I've been working so hard on this this and this, but I don't think so... Maybe I need to work more hard" It's horrible.

But yeah, thank you for telling us that, It's really inspiring :hug:
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:iconsouleyo:
Souleyo Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014
This is really motivational, thank you for posting!
I guess it's a bad habit of mine, but I constantly compare my favourite artist's work to my own which just ends up frustrating me further.
It's surprising how important colour theory is in the result of a finished work, but it always seems hard to stick to.
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:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well... those works are your favorites because they represent something you like and probably cannot do yet ^^
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:iconjosegoncalo:
josegoncalo Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very helpful! :clap:
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:iconrainiila:
Rainiila Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Super inspiring! :2
What I also like is that you mention that you read and used tuts and books and jazz. I think these days people are eager to prove they are self-taught and everything, and don't look at those things.
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:iconjexbastian1855:
JexBastian1855 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Great journal. Thanks for the motivation and encouraging words. 
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:iconsummitwulf:
Summitwulf Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
This is very inspiring. I am in quite the same place as you have been. Thank you for these good words.
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:iconbytemebebe:
Bytemebebe Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:hug: Beautifully written. Seriously, thank you for writing something like this :happycry:
It definitely gives people like me hope :w00t::w00t: :hug: ty again  :wave:
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:iconsuichu-kokyu:
Suichu-Kokyu Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
I've struggled me whole life with drawing and I am probably too hard on my slef, but lately Ive been working on what I can do instead of focusing on what i cant. thanks for the advice and i am gald to see you spread this positive message...well written :)
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:iconsarjina:
Sarjina Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
thanks for the advice it is not always easy but very rewarding in the end.
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:iconpurrdemonium:
Purrdemonium Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
This is so true, great article. C=
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:iconmt6900:
Mt6900 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This article is just great, really. I love art, that's the only thing i'm sure about, and I always try to improve my skills, and it is a real challenge!
After reading this, i'm more motivated to practice digital art. cause it is one of the hardest things for me.
I'd really apreciate if you could give me some advice, digital art is something new for me.:D (Big Grin) Clap 
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:iconcarnie-vorex:
Carnie-Vorex Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Believe it or not, I was reading this article when someone wanted advice on the matter of giving up art. They don't know English and I'm too lazy to translate, but the link to "Improvement meme" was handy enough... 
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:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:)
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:iconvapolord:
Vapolord Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Yep i also had exactly the same problem. I also stopped drawing for a long time. I just drew, what was the topic in Artclass and thats it. But then i figured out, that i should come back to drawing, since i needed to improve my skills. I always had fear to draw on paper, since everything that is wrong stands there for anyone to see. I got back to drawing Characters when i got a Graphics tablet and Ps. I somehow feel way more free to draw what i want, since i started in PS. And to be honest i also see how my skills improve from drawing to drawing. This makes me happy and confident. Now i know that i can achive same results on paper, since i figured out anotomy out at the PC without making multible shitty sketches, that lay around everywhere. I wished i hadn't stopped drawing before. I somehow felt .... well as you write "judged". Its not that i was bad at art at all, but i felt like i didn't like to draw something in public, when iam not 100% confident in knowing, that i will get it right. 
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:iconheyriel:
Heyriel Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Student Digital Artist
As usual -awesome work on that Journal! These two points are really important to understand and make a huge, huge difference :D
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:iconpinocchioii:
PinocchioII Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That's so great. I feel the same when people ask me when I started drawing, I had this 10-years-old-child issue when I was like "Hem, am I good with drawing?" Haha. Great text, I'm still stuck in the trying-to-figure-out-colors phase, but your words are a good wake up call. 
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:iconangeink:
AngeInk Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is great, well said! :)
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:iconsakoiyachan:
SakoiyaChan Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Student Traditional Artist

I love drawing but if I were to range my skills from beginner,intermediate and professional ,I would say it's some where between begginer and intermediate. The people around me always say "Hey!You can become a mangaka already!" or  "I bet if you can become instantly famous if you draw a manga now!" but I know it's not that easy to do that unless you're born a genius and that's not possible. It takes a lot of effort and hardwork to achive the results you want.(It took me 5-6yrs just to get to where I am now!)

So,a word of caution to those who aspire to become greater in any type of work:Even though getting praises is nice,who doesn't like them?,but don't let that pride get in your way.As the old saying goes "Pride,comes before a fall".

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:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Pride in itself isn't the problem. It's not being open for critique that is the problem.
The moment you forget about the need to improve, you're doomed.
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:iconsakoiyachan:
SakoiyaChan Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
I seeCutie Nod 
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:iconsaltytowel:
saltytowel Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Good read Damai :)
Fearless and patient, sound advice. What made the shift in your ability and that you started to improve is when you took to studying and not repeating the pattern of your old drawing habits. It gets old drawing the same things over and over again, frustration is always around the corner during those times.
Cheers!
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:iconmr-glaceon:
Mr-Glaceon Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This almost exactly describes my background with art. I drew hundreds of silly drawings as a kid and teenager, even learning how to draw realistic noses, but I felt like I was hitting a wall and didn't know how improve. All my faces were basically stirred spaghetti plates of disarranged facial features no matter what I did. Everything was hit or miss, so I dropped art almost entirely for years after age 16.

When I was 21, I decided to give art an honest and serious try for once. Upon reading tutorials on deviantART and MangaTutorials, I was so shocked I had been drawing everything without even basic structure all this time. I too wondered how artists knew what strokes to make, while watching speed paint videos, but with deeply studying tutorials, and practicing their examples, I saw that it was the experience in their hands. No one was kidding when they said practice was the most important secret to improving.

The more I drew, the less complex structuring I needed to do basic things. It becomes burned into your memory, and a good deal of the subconscious does much of the thinking with each line. Two to three years later, it feels pretty incredible, and I'm not afraid of attempting to draw anything anymore.

Thanks for posting this, I'm glad I'm not the only one.
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:iconangelofdarkness01:
angelofdarkness01 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
Ah yes thanks for sharing and it's really great to get inspiration from a great person. ^_^.
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:iconwynterphoenyx:
WynterPhoenyx Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Some of the best advice I've seen in regard to improving oneself in art is to just be patient and keep at it~
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:iconalaskatrailmutt:
alaskatrailmutt Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
I've been feeling stuck lately  so thank you for writing this :)
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:iconlivelovelifeeleni:
LivelovelifeEleni Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
high 5 girl! yay for fellow awesome inspiriational people who make awesome inspiring journals oooh girrrrl i now love your art too! agreed we can all learn from this! ever since i started expanding more i now say HEY I CAN DRAW THIS BETTER and feeling more self satisfaction thx!<33
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:iconair-kc:
Air-KC Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Student General Artist
this is a really nice way of encouraging us to do better!
and i have to say i can totally relate to it, was thinking about stop trying to learn, 'cause i was totally frustrated that everything i tried didn't ever came out the way i wanted it to
it was (still is sometimes) like my brain showed me the perfect picture and how it should look, yet when i tried to apply it, it came out noway near what i really wanted...
this really makes me look at this in a different light (trying to see it as part of the whole process to get better!)
Thank you very much for sharingBroken Fighting Dome (Kawaii Please) 
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:iconhystericalmellotron:
HystericalMellotron Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You've been writing so many cool journals lately, they always have some useful tips! 
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:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
And there's more to come :D
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:iconrunicbirdsong:
RunicBirdsong Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Student General Artist
Your journal entries never seem to stop encouraging many-- I absolutely love reading them, and a lot of times it lights up any dying sparks and makes me want to strive to push past the comfort zones and see things differently, and though I'm sure you've heard it more than I could imagine-- I must say thank you. ^-^
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:iconkhalilk:
KhalilK Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014
Did you get into my head and write about what I was thinking? This is what I'm going through right now.
I've been feeling the same way about not improving for 7 months now and I've given quitting a thought as of late, until I heard and received advice from other artists on here. I hope with all this advice and encouragement that I can start drawing again soon.

Thank you for this.
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:icondamaimikaz:
DamaiMikaz Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
7 months is still a pretty short time...
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:iconboomblox5896:
Boomblox5896 Featured By Owner Feb 17, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I'll be honest. My experience in art kinda jumped on me. Sure I was a kid with the basic level of such, but I had an entire period in my life when I didn't have time for that stuff. I only observed. I absorbed the skill and knowledge that I saw in both my older sister (who is an amazing artist) and the world. I knew how to take that knowledge and finally put it out on paper in my high school art class. I was absolutely amazing somehow, and it was all thanks to my ability to observe and absorb skill and knowledge for my own works. I also became a good writer from my bundled up imagination of the certain fictional universe that I know and love so much.
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