creativity reflection 2023

hello there friends...this post was originally part of my 2023 yearly reflection, but i chose to separate them. that post focuses more on how digital habits have played a part in my life over the year, whereas here i want to focus on talking about creativity.

the first longform writing i ever did on this site, and probabyly anywhere online, was a blog i wrote quite desparetely in june 2021 about how i wanted to leave social media to save the relationship i had between my art and myself. i write this without doing research so i apologise if this sounds obvious or ignorant, but i truly believe everyone has this ability to feel if something is truly 'right' or 'wrong' for them, even if this feeling is somewhat subconcious or like a gut feeling. i wont completely rehash everything i wrote in that post, and what i also wrote in the weird euphoria induced follow up after i left. but in summary, i had this deep sense that what i was making to post online - fanart, pretty drawings of my characters, following tropes and trends etc, things that would fit instagram dimensions and colour schemes, and making sure it was posted at this time every week - just wasnt right and what i wanted to be making at all.

since those posts, ive not really spoken at all about how i feel about my art since.

something id not properly analysed was the lingering pressure of turning my passion into a career, or at the very least, a monetised hobby. there was already a lot of pressure from those in real life about making money from doing traditional and classic oil painting (which i already knew i didnt want to do at all despite a talent for it) and refusing to do it but having a lot of fear of not being a successful painter or artist to these people. overall 'grind' culture online had also taught me i should try get the career FIRST then focus on passion projects. so thats what i had been trying to do after university, and i let this lead me on this path in 2022.

rewinding slightly, mere weeks after i quit social media in 2021, is when jacqueline's lonely apocalypse (jla) came about. it wasnt the first story i had ever come up with of course, not by a long shot, but it was the first one i felt like i could actually pursue because i didnt have 'trying to make it' on social media lingering over my head. it was thrilling, id be at work scribbling down ideas on reciepts or my hand and frantically typing them into word documents when i returned home. one of the first drawings i did publish when i started to come back online was directly related to it. i wanted to let this project completely consume me and my time and my energy which sounds insane but i believe that is what true indulgent passion is and it had been so, so long since i felt that. since i was a child, perhaps.

when the new year came around, i decided i would make it and that i would daily blast the neocities timeline starting in october 2022. but it had begun to come into conflict with other areas of my life. i was working an extrmeley soul sucking job in a large fast fashion store. i think part of why i wanted to pursue art so much was to get out of that job. i tried to think of ways i could monetise my skills and what to do and eventually, thats when i made the decision to shelve jla so i could focus on making a career. this is the time i started studying background design, as i love drawing backgrounds and detail and such and thought 'this could be good!'. and i truly loved studying it and improving my skills, and making it self indulgent and i even based an entire project on the ending on jla . i still thought about jla all the time, and had briefly planned how it would link into current and future stories and characters. but i needed to make money now, satisfy what it seemed my soul was craving to make later.

eventually i started to get some general commissions for backgrounds, as well as even work for a small studio. at this time i also got a new job which i am still in and i love. it relates to a hobby of mine and makes me feel fulfilled and like my efforts have gone towards something. as much as i love it, it is very physically demanding and put me comletely mentally in a very challenging place in the first few months (relating to social anxiety - i touch on briefly in the 2023 reflection). i was coming home exhausted, still adjusting to it, but having to go and work on these backgrounds, and i just couldnt help but think i wish i could be doing literally anything else right now.

please, if you have commissioned work from me in the past do not take offense. part of the reason i didnt want to pursue oil painting as a teen is because i just dont like doing work for other people, which is what my teacher got me to do a lot in school. i find it much harder, likely because of the expectation that looms over you especially with money involved. i think it even shows in the quality of the work i end up producing, i cant stand that i need to at least clean the lines up or something. i did feel really stupid, as i talked a lot of big game to those around me and my whole website (at the time of writing im guna change it lol) was changed to appear more like a professional artist website.

i came to this realisation that i didnt want that career anymore. it felt like posting for social media all over again only somehow worse. and i had a lot of conversations with eople around me. i think it comes as a bit of a let down for people but i know ultimately they care for my happiness first and foremost. i mention in my 2022 reflection that my friend d had showed me a book called 'the artists way' by julia cameron. she showed me this book probably the exact week i decided i wanted to be spending my free time working on my passion projects.

the book is a self help guide for artists, i think it draws on techniques similar to cbt and other therapies. the book talks a lot about god and 'the universe' so if youre like me and have quite a rigid scientific view on the world, go into this book with an open mind or just ignore it. i think ive always had a level of confidence about my art slightly above average but it was still evident to me i had quite severe limiting beliefs. what i found most helpful and is somehting i refer back to now in my life in general as well as in regards to art is the uprooting of painful memories or moments, no matter how menial they may seem, and the way it made me feel at the times and its lasting impact. and to counter them, what i should believe in even if at the time i think its bulllshit. for example, a big one for me and still is an insecurity is writing. the book helped me remember how my confidence in it got so low, and how to try and counter the beliefs id developed as a result.

i think the biggest thing that helped from the book was this idea of healing the inner child. a couple months previous, i had gone through and organised ALL of my artwork that i could find. something i noticed is that i have always, since i was probably as young as 4, come up with characters and stories. id written so many books and illustrated them and made little magazines based off the things i would read at the time like fairy books or girly gossip magazines. i started to make comics as well as i got older, again shamelessly riping off manga or jhonen vasquez or whatever. but theres this depressing correlation i can make between the reduction of original characters and stories, and hell even fan stories - with the more time i spent in artist circles online and the pressure i was facing in real life. bar a couple very short comics and online afterlife id never completed something, i only had characters and stories running around sketchbooks and my mind never coming to fruition. not even make it into a notes app because it just wasnt important enough compared to the attention i was finally getting online. looking through this artwork, i felt so sad for this little girl who just wanted to self indulgently make these crazy projects come to life.

in 2022 i had spent the most time id spent in over 10 years away from the internet and i distincly remember thinking to myself that i felt like a little girl again, like i was experiencing what life felt like to her again. its still a very difficult thing to articulate but i think it comes form just not having the constant input of shit online like i had that decade, id gone my whole teenage years with it constantly. in the book, there were lots of excrises that involved revisiting myself as a little girl and what she liked to do, and this just sort of made my resolve stronger, that i wanted to pursue jla even more now because i know thats what she wouldve wanted to do. and i have to force myself to remmeber she isnt my sister or daughter, she is me in the past. she doesnt exist,instead it that she as grown up and become me and i still am that same girl in many ways.

and so, i decided to start making it. overall it just all felt very natural and easy. despite being warned of burn out, when i did finish it i just wanted to go and start the next part. ive had to force myself to take a break and even now i just want to make make make. cmon brain lets take a break at least for a few months damn lol. this post is meant to be more of a why than a how, but the process of making it did have its ups and downs. where writing isnt something im used to i found that aspect increidbly difficult and prone to procrastination and i genuinely think if it wasnt for what i had learnt in the book i wouldve given up at some point. if you read my 2023 reflection youll know at around june i had a bit of a depressive spell. partially, i think it all fuelled each other and my impulse to procrastinate not the writing now - but the painting, as i was completely out of my comfort zone and really struggling with the first few jla days. but it was a satisfying difficulty to push through and im so glad that i did and never gave up on it. the nature of the work and the story calls for imperfection and you can see a whole lot of fucking abysmal anatomy, perspective, composition, among countless other imperfections i would usually never let slide. but i dont mnind it being out there. i was nervous about posting it online at all because i didnt want any opinions, positive or negative, to influence the work in anyway at all as ive seen that happen with other media both online and mainstream and i fear i may be quite influenced by opinion, seeing as thats what drove so much of my time spend posting on social media. but i think now ive developed enough confidence to know what these characters are about and what the story is doing.

the only regret i really have with it is time - i had most of the plot and the diary planned so it just needed refining, along with most designs and even the concepts - but it was the artwork itself i was worried about as i knew it wold be incredibly time consuming. so it is frustrating when i look back on the months i didnt work on jla and as a result, the absolute crunch and insanity i had to put myself under to get day 52 finished. i finished it 4 hours before it was to be published and boy does it fucking show LOL. at the very least the next parts dont require such a biazzare story format and publication so i can pace myself much more.

the next part requires lots of input. i feel like its quite a robotic term to use to describe finding inspiration and experience and learning about new things to inform the knowledge i need for wht i want to do next creatively but its the word im using. i think around painting day 40 i relised id reached that sort of stagnant area in artistic development, but i was against a clock to finish the rest of the project but i knew that i want to fill the time after with refilling my well of influence and go back to some fundmentals and such, so that is how id like to spend the beginning of the new year. lots of what influenced jla has been incredibly mundane, as well as general thoughts ive even briefly touched on here such as on creativity for jack. so for me input looks like reading, studying some concepts and ideas, putting myself through therapy, talking to people, taking myself on little day trips, enjoying nature and the things man has made. my favourite thing about creativity is that anything can influence it and creatvity can be expressed in all kinds of ways, from what you paint or write or cook or wear or say.

its difficukt to describe what fulfilment of the soul feels like, and how it feels to know that this is what im meant to be doing, but when i think of this project and what ive completed and what i will work on in the many years to come im in tune with myself enough to know that working on it feels right, it feels really quite good and correct. i feel this innate pressure inside me that wants to create like this. i suppose i feel so passionately about it because since growing into an adult, ive observed that most people are truly creatives but 90% of the time they chose to shelve it, due to life decisions or insecurity or the pressure to work and make careers and families and such, and also i think the idea that being creative is childish. ive observed it in those my age since graduating, and also in those who are much older than me and it just makes me sad. i dont want to be on my deathbed upset because i didnt pursue my passions, whether or not they earnt me any kind of noteriaty. i suppose im coming to the realisation i feel 'married to my work'. unfortunately talking about it with epople is still something i feel very uncomfrotable about but i hope to work on this oncifence in the new year. that this is my work, it will probably never be a 'career' because that means changing it in some way to be palatable, and accessible to everyone. but the all consuming, obsessive, devotion i feel to it means i t cannot simply be a hobby either.

im not really sure how to end this blog. its 2am and i feel quite delirious im usually in bed by 10 LOL. take from it what you will. even for this blog, i felt a deep need to expell these thoughts before i can move onto the next thing. and well now, its 2024, the year of input for me.....

"what did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits."

carl jung

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