Life is not going well. I'm now serving as full-time caregiver for a very sick parent, driver and part-time caregiver for an uncle whom I've always felt was as close to a male parent as I'd ever have, and I am slowly realizing a few things about myself that I wasn't really ready for. Mom's been on the way down for a long time and while I've always known I could lose her, it's one thing to say "Aw hell, she could be gone in a few days" and entirely another to see her teeter on the edge of giving up and letting her medical history win out. She's still hanging on but I think we're both coming 'round to terms with the idea of her being gone and be being on my own to figure out life for myself.
On that front I am presented with daunting evidence, all of which have done wonders for my self confidence. Funny thing, confidence. Some people exude it, others, we just sort of dribble. Mine dribbles and makes a small puddle and then rather than having exuded confidence, I find myself lying in a soggy puddle.
Every step I take forward, I go backwards two to seven steps. Admittedly, the stress of essentially doing everything for my mother is wearing on me and it's given me a really bleak outlook but at the same time, life could cut me a break. I spend several hours a day three days a week waiting for a medical professional to tell me they goofed, she's dead, and I'm fucked. Is it too much to ask to have a concept for a drawing actually get past the concept stage? I start loose sketching the object I intend to draw. Easy Peasy. Keep in mind perspective, make sure I don't stray too far over reasonable guidelines of perspective, do my bit, keep it tight, and stay focused. Easy.
Before I'm 1/3 through the drawing, it may resemble what I intended to draw but it looks like the toddler version. Like someone handed a pencil to a pre-schooler and told him "Okay widdle boy, draw me a car" and his drawing somehow ended up on my sketchpad. Like, somehow I've been allowed to reach 30, but I plateaued in drawing at age 3 and will forever suck ass at it.
"But TJ, you don't have to draw. You could... take up the Oboe, or the violin! Maybe learn to write songs, or screenplays!"
Yeah, I know. Writing, music, writing, storytelling, writing, jokes, the world is my oyster and within it grows my pearl. Too bad, because I want to DRAW. Specifically, I want to learn to draw well. Specifically, I'd like to learn to draw well enough to maybe get paid for it so I could have a job I would not dread and despise incredibly. I've had jobs I didn't want. Aside from the money, I had no reason to return to them and eventually even the money couldn't get me to go back. Getting good enough at drawing to find someone who will give me money for it... That's a job I could see me being content with until I finally decide to deprive this world of my company.
I know, I know. It's a huge hope to become so skilled at drawing that I ever make a dime at it. One in a million shot at best. I know this. It does not deter me. So what if I discover that I'm a failure at drawing too. I've been a failure at so goddamn many things at this point, I am learning to wear failure like a warrior wears a helmet. Hi, I'm TJ. I fuck up a lot and can't be trusted to sit on a toilet correctly even with coaching. Mediocre at pretty much everything I ever tried. Nice to meet ya. Any remedial tasks you need done poorly? I assure you sir, you'll never find anybody better than me when you need an easy task done miserably. I'm professional quality when it comes to being useless, and I work cheap.
Practice does help. I've gone from "sucks completely" to "just plain sucks". I... In auto repair, one of few things I don't completely ass up, I was tinkering with an engine one day and I could not figure out why it would not function. I hit the wall and just couldn't solve the puzzle. I wallowed in futility for a time and finally went outside for a smoke break. As I looked at the lit end of my cigarette it hit me: that's fire. That's kinda like what that engine doesn't have in the cylinders... Hmmm, what's it doing that the engine isn't? Fire needs four things, fuel, oxygen, and ignition. I'll be a bowlegged bastard, that's it! One of the three is missing! If all three are present, it will work. It can't help but work. Went back in, looked the engine over and discovered that the ignition coil was bad! Replaced it and the engine ran beautifully because I'd cleaned and tweaked every part of it that I could clean or tweak. In a moment of silent contemplation, I managed to mentally solve every engine problem. The fourth possible issue? Mechanical complication. Those four elements, if all of 'em are right, it'll work.
I've yet to make such a realization in drawing/art. I'm still wandering aimlessly trying to figure out how not to suck, and I'm beginning to think that it's a lost cause. I suck and as such I will always suck. Even when I can make something that resembled headway, almost instantly I fall on my ass. Either I forget that I don't know shit, or I simply reach out an inch beyond what I can do. It's a lot like reaching for something you can't reach. If you don't lean over farther, you can't reach it. If you reach over an inch farther, you still can't reach it because you fell down and are farther away from it than you were five minutes ago.
"Well, TJ, why not set up an object and draw it?"
Primarily because... I've got a camera for that, and what I want to draw... I'd get arrested for getting one and putting it on my desk. Not all of my goals are like that, but drawing the darker side of things is definitely on my radar. I'm sure I'd get in serious trouble for digging up some poor sap, cutting his head off, and using that as a model. Plus, dead folk tend to be gooey at the stage I'd like to master and I'm not too good with gooey. Gooey is... well, gooey. Not all of my thoughts are on that level, but several of the concepts I have, there are no models for that. The classical art world seems to be out of good answers when it comes to concepts you can't sit on a chair and replicate with a pencil or a paintbrush. I guess I'm a moron because that type of art, while I totally respect it, I have no need for it. My camera is a cheap piece of shit, but it'll capture detail finer than my pencil can dream of recreating. I want to create rather than duplicate. Draw those things which no-one but my mind's eye has seen, show those images that are completely fresh and not-yet-done. To create completely new artworks which are... mine.
"Really? And what the hell would you do with it? Put together an art gallery for freaks, geeks, weirdos, and psychos? LMAO."
No, smartass. Coffee mugs, t-shirts, mouse pads, cellphone cases, eventually maybe even designing covers for CDs, tattoos, logos, signs, and a thousand other products. I'd rather have a piece of my work on something USEFUL. I totally get people who want to design fine art. Me, I'm more a chug and belch kind of guy. If I could have my work on the cover of an up-and-coming band's CD case, over hanging in the Louvre. The friggin' Louvre, I'll take the CD case, thanks. It may have something to do with the fact that I, like 99% of my friends, we'll never see the outside of the Louvre much less the inside.
Integral to achieving any of that is being able to draw... anything. There's my problem. I suck. Because of that, my goals are made of refined unobtainium and likely will forever remain that way. Compound that with lots and lots of waiting time thanks to my mother's health issues, I've got lots of time to contemplate how hopeless my ideal future is... It's not always fun being me.