Why I'm painting again instead of drawing digitally

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write a blog post. I had a couple of attempts earlier in April but couldn’t get the words out.

This year has been very busy so far, which is absolutely amazing, but I’m also on a discovery path with my work which keeps evolving so it feels like I have two jobs at the moment… One being client work, admin stuff and maintaining my online sales, and the other being exploring personal work to let my style evolve and change.

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As I wrote about it awhile back, I was having continuous debates on whether I should use traditional or digital mediums for my illustrations and truthfully I still don’t have it quite figured out. I feel that I have to choose one or the other because they produce very different results. When I work by hand, I tend to be a bit looser in my strokes and it forces me not to overwork a piece or to change around the composition a million times (which yes, I do all the time with digital). Painting with watercolour and gouache has been a great challenge for me because I got soooo comfy with the iPad being able to move everything around and undo when I needed to. It can be really difficult to work digitally when you can keep refining and refining, it’s like there’s no end to a piece because it can always be improved. When it comes to putting things on paper, once it’s there, there’s pretty much no going back. This is something I’m actually really enjoying because it’s forcing me to approach my illustrations in a different way.

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I definitely don’t think there’s any right or wrong when it comes to choosing a medium, but I think it’s important that it’s something you really love, because that’s what will keep you inspired 10, 20, 30 years from now.

Growing up, I always turned to art as my chosen hobby. I would start paper maché projects at home and couldn’t wait to get home from school to finish them. In class, I loved when we got to make crafts and I could get my hands all soaked up in a glue mixture or acrylic paints. I remember dipping my feet in paint and walking across a big banner, the squish of the cold paint on my foot and the marks it left behind. In high school, I painted acrylic paintings of beaches, mountains, trees, anything that would help ease my mind in whatever I was going through (like any teenager right?). I took as many art classes as you possibly could in a public high school, and became besties with my teachers, who knew I felt really passionate about the craft. I painted self-portraits, studied light & shadows, discovered art history and mixed all kinds of things together to create a piece. I once even broke up a bunch of glass and hot glued it to a canvas with a portrait on it to make a statement about depression.. something I didn’t honestly know much about other than feeling sad.

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Painting is part of my story, a big part of it. It’s the number one thing I loved for so long before people started telling me to think about my career seriously. It’s what feels like home, what I love to do no matter how sad or distracted I am. It puts me in my flow, and I lose track of time.

Now I’m not going to declare that digital art isn’t art, because I definitely think it is. If you’ve ever tried to draw on an iPad or Wacom tablet, you’ll know that it takes hella skills to figure out. I think digital art is absolutely marvellous, and opens doors for people that didn’t exist before. I could go on and on, because I value digital art as I do traditional art. They’re both equal to me and I don’t want this post to come across as me saying that traditional art is better because it’s not, it’s just as good.

There was something that happened a few months ago, where I just looked at my iPad and thought “I’m out”. I’m out of ideas, I’m out of inspiration, the lightbulb has burnt out. I just simply was out of ideas about what to draw. I felt like I was piecing together things that I liked in other artworks, and didn’t feel like my own. After creating a great piece, of course I felt happy, but that “LOOK WHAT I MADE” feeling wasn’t there anymore.

This piece was my “ah-HA” moment!

This piece was my “ah-HA” moment!

This isn’t to say that I don’t still enjoy drawing digitally, because I do. I love to sketch on my iPad so I can shift things around and it’s also great for some client projects that prefer more of a polished look. But ultimately, I just felt a huge pull to paint again, to get my hands messy and use every angle of the brush on paper. It was equally as frustrating as it was joyful, because I LOVED the feeling, but hated the result. This went on for some time, until I finally started to see little hints of progress and pieces coming together in the paintings. Then I had it, that “LOOK WHAT I MADE!!!” moment. I was so excited I texted all of my best friends. It’s not that the piece is particularly amazing, it’s that I found the progress. I knew what direction to take next and I finally saw how it could all come together.

I like to write about these things because I hope some day I can read back on my posts and remember what it was like in the beginning, all the confusion and such. I hope I’ll look back and remind myself of all the nights I stayed up so late painting away and all the time I spent perfecting my craft, making it so valuable. I hope I’ll cherish this growth and feel thankful that I allowed myself to have the courage to explore.

If there’s something you really love, and I mean REALLY love, go for it man!! There’s absolutely no excuse to follow your dreams in this day and age, whatever that looks like to you! You don’t need to quit your job, or read tons of “5 Steps to Financial Freedom!!!” posts, but you owe it to yourself to try, little by little, day by day, to live a life you absolutely love. I’ll see you there.

Xx

Sabina