Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Linseed Dragon

I've been feeling held back and frustrated all day (for no particular reason -- it's just a mood) and I started thinking about Azeroth again.  I played World of Warcraft for five years, until I had to stop playing.  It was mostly because of some friend betrayals, lies told, and the realization I wasn't having fun playing with things the way they were.  It made me see that instead of living my life, I was spending it adventuring through a rich, beautifully illustrated, and epic online gaming world.  

You know, it's funny that when I remember the areas of the game, I don't remember looking at a flat screen.  My memories are three dimensional, as if I were actually in the game itself.  Yes, it was that graphically impressive.  When you add to the fact that my imagination had always been filled with mythical creatures anyway, it felt like home there.  It was a place where I could accomplish things, and exert a little control over my goals.  

But I spent too many hours playing each day, until I resented having to leave the house and deal with real humans I couldn't challenge to a beating when they angered me. I stopped playing when I hadn't intended to, because the fun just died with nobody to talk to on my playing level.  It became monotony.  

I miss the magic.  That's what appealed to me the most.  All of the characters I chose to work hardest on were all magic casters: priests, mages (my favorite toon), warlocks.  I just couldn't get much into the hand-to-hand combat characters.  Maybe it was the pretty lights my toons made when they attacked something with magic.  

What kills me is seeing new expansions come out and wishing I could play them.  But I don't have time.  I don't want to sacrifice my time in my real life for that anymore.

So now I'm oil painting, and frustrated with my progress.  I see others finish paintings in a night, while I'm grinding away on a portrait for 4 months of classes. (Ok, I'm just jealous that they're so far ahead of me.) What makes me unhappy is this: my painting doesn't look precisely like the subject anymore, and I can't "get the darks darker" enough, because I don't understand why I have to.  Why do I have to make the darks darker than they were in my source photo? Why do I have to make his barely-there sparse whiskers into a Guy Fawkes black mustache? Huh? Why??  I'm painting that guy because I like the way he looks and I want to recreate him perfectly, not end up with someone so alien to me I want to slash him with my palette knife!

I'll never paint another portrait again if I'm expected to end up with something that doesn't look like the subject. A "likeness" means this to me: "Well, I couldn't get the painting to really look like your father, so I'll call this a "likeness" and pretend it's right."

When I was in fourth grade, I discovered Greek Mythology.  I spent hours in the school library researching them in the encyclopedias.  I drew and colored a picture of Pegasus.  Clash of the Titans was released and my thirst for mythological stories ran wild.

I know my painting teacher thinks I can't draw. (Clarification: she doesn't realize that I can.) I can, but just not well enough to make me happy.  (It embarrasses me when I make mistakes.). I'm just not good enough, and I can't pull images out of my head because they aren't sharp and precise in my limited visual imagination.  My imagination has become myopic.  

Or do I just lack source pictures?

Again, I never make the darks intense enough to please the art teachers I know.  I'm doing the best I can when it's all a huge improvisation for me, and I want it to be excellent..... Though it obviously isn't. Not yet.  I'm far from that level of skill.  Such is the lament of the beginner.

Practicing on a year of high school art will only take you so far.  I feel that because I don't understand the rationale behind much of what I'm doing, I can't do it well, and I certainly can't put it all together for myself.  Sometimes it feels like I'm painting by numbers, waiting for instructions on what to do next.  And then sometimes I just go by what my instinct is telling me, which looks great to everyone for a while, until suddenly my subject's nose is far too wide and I have to redo it, leaving a nose job painfully obvious to me on the canvas.  

I'm beginning to hate my lack of understanding of oil painting.  I won't emulate Boris Vallejo for many years at this rate.  And I would, truthfully, be embarrassed if my classmates knew I want to paint dragons, flying horses, and mythical heroes.  

The last time I worked on a fantasy subject was in college.  It was going to be a bulletin board set of St. George and the Dragon.  I never finished, but because I never really got to teach the literature I loved, the unfinished dragon and hero were irrelevant.  

*sigh* I'm fighting a dragon composed of linseed oil and pigment.  

I should probably have something to paint at home, but I don't have a decent tabletop easel.  (Although I do have the most expensive crap one that Wal-Mart sells, perfect for my next bonfire!)

I'm afraid to set foot into my studio, for fear of failure.  *sigh*. I guess I'm going to have to sneak up on myself to do it.  A few minutes of revamping the room a day, then an easel.... 

Surely some success at something would make me feel better?  I just have such a limited amount of time each day, and so many things I have to do.  Fix food, do all the yard work and cleaning, spend a couple of hours at the gym, wash clothes.  Nap.  Because I'm tired all the time, and in a lot of pain to boot, which is worsened by sitting and standing.  Lying flat is just about the only relief I get (and that's partial, at best), but I try not to say anything, because I'm accused of being negative too much.  

Hey hey, let me give you some hip labral tears and see if you can say how happy you are.  

I didn't think so.  Distract me from my pain, and I won't mention how unhappy it makes me to hurt like this, all day, every day.  

I need to get better at painting, and I need it to happen now.  I need the knowledge... I'm just not sure how to get it.

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