Dreaming too is a skill

In school I chased ever higher grades. In piano I chased ever fast complicated chords. In writing it was ever longer essays. In projects, tighter schedules; in managing, tighter rules.

Or in short in all fields throughout life what I sought was technical competence.

Drawing is the only thing so far where I’ve attempted to teach myself. It’s also the only thing where I’ve had a fairly clear idea from the beginning of what I like and why I like it, and for reasons other than technical competence: line drawings of women in sexual manners because muh dick. Simple, but conscious. While I liked songs I played on the piano I didn’t know why, and never fathomed to begin thinking about why they were appealing. It never occurred to me to think about drawing either, but by chance or other means the reason did exist.

It’s been a little over two years since I took drawing as a serious endeavor, and I’m now reaching basic technical competence in a majority of the things I originally wanted: I can draw all basic body parts of a woman, and know which proportions and camera angles to adjust to emphasize sexuality. There’s still some work to be done on reliably and accurately drawing certain positions and camera angles, but the problem’s approach is known, and estimates on how long it’ll take to solve are fairly accurate. All of this is a far cry from not knowing what to draw, how to draw, or even being able to copy anything at all. I know what I can and can’t do, and what I can do I can do well.

What I can’t do is anything worth doing.

Drawing female bodies is the only thing I’ve ever actually learned on my own, I’m certain I have competencies in it even if several areas need improvement, and yet I’m also completely unsatisfied with it. At some point in the past though I was satisfied with revisiting the same things over and over again, getting better day by day. Technical competence in a number of component skills is always required to open more doors in its superset skill: Not knowing clothing or hair or how to digitally color skin believably weren’t concerning to me because I knew I’d get to it eventually, and get better at it just the same as torso forms with pencil lines. It’s somewhat daunting to have to step into new territory soon; it’s even more to have to relearn how to take steps altogether.

l9wnqyoI can tell you there are some problems in this image. Some things are too large, some things are too small, a few things should be lighted differently, and some forms interfere if thought out a bit more. It’s fully within my abilities to redraw and fix those problems.

But I wouldn’t be able to create bottom up something that gives its feeling. I can draw female figures from this angle, but I wouldn’t know to use this one in particular. I can draw the stairs, but I wouldn’t know where to stop. I wouldn’t know to have the characters only take up that amount of space in the frame. I’d know how to make the females attractive. I wouldn’t know how to arrange everything so that the final product felt both sad yet comforting. At some point in the past I wouldn’t consider to make something sad yet comforting.

But now I do consider it. I think conveying feelings is what’s worth doing.

And I don’t know how to get there because my only meanings in life have been chasing technical competence and whetting my genitals . I’ve written a number of words in my life, but since I’ve never tried to do anything with it other than record my thoughts as-is with only myself in mind as the audience, that’s the limits of my writing. If I wrote a story, my strongest characters would be those singlemindedly improving on one skill and those running around satisfying carnal desires. There’d be other characters too, they’d just all be flat and unreadable. There wouldn’t be a story. They wouldn’t be characters. They’d be words.

The moment I stop thinking pornographically, my drawings become pencil lines. I can’t see characters. I can’t see motivations. If I see anything at all other than lines and shapes, it’s just a pretty face and a pretty body.

Which is what I wanted. So I guess it’s what I got.

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If you want to see something, and over time you’ve only ever trained yourself to see that particular something, you’re not about to see anything else. If I want to see and draw “pretty faces”, I’m not about to see why she’s making that face, or what pose her body is in, in what kind of scene or including what other characters and their overall story. I still want pretty faces, to be sure. But it’s not the only thing I want anymore.

I want to tell stories now. I’ve no idea where to begin.

But technical competence in a number of component skills guarantees more open doors in its superset skill, and at some point component skills are effortlessly interchangeable.

When I started drawing it was difficult to keep returning to it. I sucked, I wasn’t making progress, nothing looked good, I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I only stuck with it because after a lifetime of believing in school I failed to get any job, and was hammering into my head that I needed to have something to show for in my life. Even then I only returned to it for a few hours a month. But it grew to a few hours every few weeks. Then a few hours a week, and now, I can’t imagine not doing it. The competency of the final result improving was only the cherry on top; what was important was learning how to approach the idea being encoded and becoming familiar with the kinds of mental landscapes that help cultivate these actions. Like water and food in an endless desert, when I just started drawing it was important for me to be able to produce good drawings at a certain rate. Now the land is bountiful, or at the very least there’s a decent sized patch of it which isn’t desert. I know how to get back to that patch, I know how to expand it, I even have a decent idea how to recreate that patch somewhere else entirely if for whatever reason that need arises. Good drawings hold a different meaning now, a man used to having his belly full at the end of every day isn’t going to find the same things acceptable as a man perpetually starving.

Among all the other things, dreaming holds a different meaning too.

This time it’s not like two plus years ago when all I had to reference was the pedagogy of the public school system and an online sea of low quality amateur artists who only pick up their craft twice a year and spend the rest of the time talking about personal style, imagination, passion, big names, and other undefined unactionable buzzwords. This time I have some experience learning, some idea of where to look and how to inspect things for the purposes of reverse engineering. In drawing the workflow is familiar enough to me that I can document it. But even elsewhere I have an idea how it works, what to do to expand my foothold, and the confidence that certain actions will produce the things needed to in turn produce and improve results: the first step is to believe the problem is solvable, the second step is to try out different imitations of examples until the structure of the whole can be identified. The other steps are depend more on the subject matter and are more complex, but are relatively trivial in importance. The first step is the most important one of all. And it’s one I can now take reliably.

Learning how to tell stories in drawings shouldn’t be too hard.

Learning how to tell stories in writing should be doable too, if only a few years further away.


[0] The original intended title for this post was “The End”. The second title was “Desire too is a skill”. It was changed to the final title due to connotations of the replaced words.

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