Coping as an artist?

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Adults Coping as an artist?

Viewing 9 reply threads
  • Author
    • #122702

      Hello everyone, I’m new to the community and to acknowledging my symptoms.

      I’m in my 20s and I’m a digital artist! I love drawing with a deep passion, I have since I was little. For me, you couldn’t punish me by saying “go to your room” as I’d likely be there, drawing, haha. However, I’m terrible at keeping up my art, and it’s driving me to a point where I’m frustrated to tears. I never finish any piece, all the drawings take an immense amount of time for me to finish (we’re talking about days, if I draw without a break which is usually the case, to weeks if I have breaks… which means I take forever to pick them back up). I have a vision and I love drawing the way I do, but once I finish all the interesting parts of my painting, I always slow down and eventually sort of drop it, even if I desperately want to finish it.

      I know the answer would be as simple as “don’t think too hard about it”, “it doesn’t need to be perfect” or “do it quickly” or whatever, but sadly none of those are helpful. As an artist, you have a certain way you do your art, and you love doing it, you really do, it’s just so sad seeing all these WIPs piling up…

      I also can’t keep to a project. I’ve been wanting to start plenty of projects, but I never finish them – if I even start them at all! I usually just do a drawing on the go, whatever hits my head at the time. But I always have the projects in the back of my head and I just never get to them…

      It’s so frustrating, it all makes me so genuinely sad. I feel like a failure, failing at the one thing I’m good at and have a real passion for. (instead of one of those impulse hobbies).

      I know this is a very specific topic and I’ll likely not get any responses, but it’s worth trying. Thank you for reading, regardless.

      Any ideas how to handle all of this? Thank you.

    • #122783

      Hi Ornithurae,

      I’m an artist as well and can completely relate.

      I’m still amazed I managed to get a degree, although I had to do it as a mature student as I dropped out the first time around.

      I have many projects I’ve started and never followed through with. I found I could do the work when I was at university because it had to be done. If I didn’t do it, I’d fail. It also helped that I was set briefs.

      I struggle now with motivation and procrastination, my problem is actually starting work. So at least you’re getting started, even if you’re not finishing.

      The only thing I can suggest is writing a brief, setting yourself a detailed project and a timeframe in which to complete it and stick to it, as if you have a deadline and someone needs it. I’ve seen other people suggesting using briefs from competitions, you don’t have to enter the competition but use it as a way of setting yourself the project and having the deadline, but you don’t have to submit the work if you don’t want to.

      Also don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having a day when you’re just not feeling the work. Take time to do something else and then come back to it. At uni we were encouraged to go to the library and flick through books and magazines for inspiration. Sometimes you just need to give your mind a break and then you can get right back into it.

      Good luck!

    • #122813

      Your time lines seemed about right. I bounce between several WIPs to avoid boredom or stalls. Exercise or meditation to make myself happy or conversely find something I really don’t want to do that I can avoid/procrastinate while I’m finishing a project. There’s nothing like the feeling of finishing something wonderful instead of working in the wall of aweful goal I had set. Happy dance.

    • #123750

      Oh boy…I was stuck in the same rut not long ago. …and I still have a lot of Wip pieces on my home computer too. For me, I found it hard to finish something if it was just for me. I wouldn’t want to show someone my unfinished piece, but if I’m the only one looking at it and I got the parts done that I wanted most…I don’t know, I would just get bored with it. I could work more on it. I TRIED. But, it didn’t make me happy. And if it didn’t make me feel good doing it, why was I doing it?
      The truth is, I’m not much better at this. I try to stick to smaller pieces in my off time when I just need to draw or create something. But I have a job where I have been asked to draw and create things. I work in Indesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop almost every day now for work- and I made my boss give me deadlines, and I do get things done! If it’s for someone else, and they need me and my skills- that helps me. So these days, I don’t think about all the half-done wip stuff as much…it helps just to have something I’m assigned, get it done, and move it along. I do try to not start a side-project if I don’t have the idea fleshed out enough though. That probably does save some space on my computer.

    • #124178

      I thought that it was just me.:-)
      Perhaps try something like timing yourself? Set a timer for 30 minutes choose a subject and only create something within that time frame… then go back to it like an hour later or whenever, if you feel so inclined. 🙂 There’s a facebook group, if you do that, that’s called “Daily Spitpaint” and it’s full of artists novice to “professional”,as well as digital to fine arts, that post there art afterward.
      Also, maybe try getting a tape recorder or a small notepad and record/write down your ideas even if they seem silly. Then you can go back to them later when you’re ready or you’re looking for ideas. I try to do it, but it definitely takes some habit forming. Just some thoughts is all. I hope it helps. 🙂

    • #124455

      You just described my life but with writing instead of visual art. I wrote a lot in college because I had projects and assignments, but now that I’ve graduated it’s so much harder. I love thinking the stories in my head but never want to bother with writing them down. Or just write the “interesting parts” and get bored just like you said! And it does feel like a particularly deep and personal failure. I haven’t found a solution, but I wanted to offer my solidarity. Reading your post made me feel like I was not alone. And I wanted to encourage you that you are still an artist even in “dry seasons” where you don’t create. The creative power is still in you; your symptoms are just coming in between that power and tangible pieces of art. I believe in you and in all of us artists who currently feel alienated from our passions— that we will find a good stride again!

    • #124688

      Hi, I thought I replied before but I guess it did not post.
      I do artwork and writing. It seems to be one huge “batch” that hopefully will get all finished at some point. This last year I have focused on “organizing it all”. It is all digital luckily. And I forced myself to stop start new ones. This has not been an easy process to do. My brain would rather keep starting new creations !
      I think I will always have to work in “limited batches” though.
      I read that Robert Bateman cannot simply work on one painting from start to finish and keeps a half dozen paintings going that are at different stages (rotating). His would be too agonizingly detailed for me to finish (even in batches).

    • #125543

      I have been a musician and now a music composer my whole life. I have had a day job for maybe 6 years in a hospital psychiatric ward and lived with untreated ADHD up to about 8 years ago. I am 60 and I don’t wish to screw around with this learning curve. I hope what I will share with you, you will try. Takes about 90 days for this technique to stick.

      First off Don’t wait to be inspired. Being an artist means you search for inspiration in looking at other peoples work or developing an idea of your own.

      Getting stuff done is hard, especially if you are self-employed and need to do work for yourself you usually put off, like paying bills. There always seems to be another task to do: a drawer could be organized, a phone call to your sister or checking flight prices on a trip you have no intention of taking.

      Enter: the Pomodoro Technique.

      This popular time-management method can help you power through distractions, hyper-focus and work in short bursts, while taking frequent breaks to come up for air and relax. Best of all, it’s easy. If you have a busy job where you’re expected to produce, it’s a great way to work through your tasks. Let’s break it down and see how you can apply it to your work.

      • Write down the night before what you need to do the following day.
      • Purchase an egg timer. 3 bucks at the grocery store.
      • Set it for 25 min. after it goes off stop for 5 minutes breathe walk around
      • go back set the egg timer again for 25 minutes and do it again. .
      • wash rinse repeat

      Don’t go onto another project till you finish the one you started. I know it’s tough. Give yourself the 90 days then another if u need too.

      If you are a professional or want to do this for a living you must treat this like your going to work. No email or Facebook right after you awake. Set up a half-hour perhaps during your lunch hour to catch up with social media stuff if possible.

      If you don’t think you can cut out social media alone there are plenty of programs that will help you stay offline once you set that up.

      Remember to sleep well and eat right for your brain. And for heaven’s sake quit being so hard on yourself,it’s not your fault you have this ADHD stuff. It’s a learning disability so learn.

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 5 months ago by ivry321.
    • #128837

      Wow, can I relate to your story – the refuge of drawing as a child part especially! I think that childhood hyerfocusing is what allowed us to develop and sharpen our skills so much!

      On not finishing stuff:

      I once developed a practice of doing smaller, simpler pieces that I would start at a specific time in the evening and finish that night. They would be kept simple, so I could finish them in a reasonable amount of time. The effect of completing 1 small piece night after night helped immensely!!

    • #129020

      You must be my long lost twin! I am a “ADHD” Crafter…or that’s what I like to call myself. Unfinished crafts have taken up space in my house. From knitting, to resin projects, handmade soaps/candles, jewelry…all the physical stuff began taking up space. Eventually, I took it to freelance “modeling” which eventually turned into me running a magazine…since things have been slow..I have felt like a failure. I start one thing..and then I get bored, or I am not happy with the outcome and move on.

      I recently uncovered a passion for digital art as it has helped me focus and block out the world. Over this past weekend, I noticed a lot of half finished things I was working on for fun as I waited for some commissioned orders to come through.

      ADHD/ADD effects our selfesteem and procrastination, but in a way, you have to see it as a blessing. We are trying to uncover ways to better ourselves..and sometimes it wares us out, drains us of our batteries and we procrastinate.

      What you can try (that has helped me), is physically writing out all your creative projects out. Having a physical check list and visually seeing your accomplishments as you check them off is a good motivator. Hang in there!!

Viewing 9 reply threads

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.