Now that I've gotten my slate cleaned up, I did say at one point I would open myself up for more commissions. Over the last couple weeks, though, I have been taking it very easy, and have realized something about myself.
You see, when you end up doing professional artwork night after night after night, there's a certain pressure that is always over you. It needs to get done in a timely manner. It needs to adhere to a personal standard that the client expects from you. And you need to be ready to field any special requests and fixes they have for it.
None of that exists when you're just practicing.
When you get to just put all that aside and practice, there's a therapeutic aura about the whole thing. You don't have to worry about what other people will say about it. Nobody has to see it. You can try whatever you want. Experiment. You can try replicating another artist's style, you can go wild and do your own style. You can try it with a textured spatter brush, or a pin-point line brush. You can go at it for five minutes, give up, start another one, and do dozens of different pictures in a single night. You can hunker down and blow the whole evening just getting the cheek bones right. You can stream your little aesthetic musings for your friends to check out. Or you can put on a newly-discovered Synthwave mix on YouTube and drop into your own mental pocket beyond the tangible confines of existence. You can draw the same picture, over and over and over again, trying new ideas with each attempt.
In a way, drawing becomes something akin to playing a video game or going to the gym. It's truly your meditation, your escape, and your ability to build yourself, and you get better at it the more you do it.
When you are in practice mode, you don't have clients. You don't have a standard. You don't have to worry about getting it done in time, or even done at all. You won't be given a checklist of tasks to adhere to. You have absolute freedom.
Freedom to explore.
Freedom to give up and move to something else.
Freedom to fail.
You can fail. It's beautiful how, when you're in practice mode, you can fail. You can sit back, chuckle about how awful it looks, and you can be a determined little codger that will keep trying until they're satisfied. Or you can be like me, and say "well, looks like I'm not so good at drawing Cyborg Alpacas. Steampunk Koalas, though...?"
But all the while, nobody cares. Nobody complains. Nobody will pressure you to work harder, draw faster, or be better. There's no reason, there's no point, and without the arbitrary inclusion of "purpose" casting a shadow on the work station, there's no consequence.
And if you're having difficulty churning up the motivation to open a sketchbook and draw something you don't normally draw, it's okay. Don't do it because you want to see how good you are at it. Do it to see how, no matter how badly your attempt is, the world around you is still standing. Because that kind of liberty is something I don't get very often when I draw. When I'm working, I can't suck. I can't give up and do something else. I can't fail.
So go ahead. Treat yourself. You have the time, so award it by sticking it to humanity and proclaiming "I'm going to draw this monstrosity and you jerks can't stop me!"
As my freelance schedule starts ramping up again in the next couple weeks, I'm a little saddened that I won't get these nights to myself to just try drawing some human figures. Some referenced. Some attempted off the top of my head. All a little caddywompus, loose, chaotic, and weird looking. But it's a care-free type of art session I don't get very often.
So I'm going to suck while I still can.
Because soon enough, every night will again be defined by standards. Deadlines. Specifications. And consequences to failure.