mermay · monthly art challenge · mental health struggles

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The last challenge I’ll be taking on before Inktober is one created called Mermay which like Inktober happens yearly. Why mermaids? Well, I actually don’t know. So, let’s do some research!

Mermay is a drawing challenge created by Tom Bancroft (on Instagram) which invites you to “post a new mermaid drawing every day in May.” I believe this began because he was working on his own children’s book focused on a spunky young mermaid. To motivate himself further, he introduced the idea so that others could join in the joy of creating various other renditions of the species.

If you’d like to see my thoughts on the individual art pieces, go ahead and watch the video below. Otherwise, skip the video and continue down to read more about my emotional struggles.

As to not make you feel like you need to watch the video, I’m going to go ahead and say that the video basically goes into depth about the individual pieces. I go through my decisions and why I made them. And I also talk about the toll each piece I did had on me.

That being said, this part will be about the more general effect it had on me.

May 2019

Mermay was a double-edged sword.

Like I had said at the beginning, this month’s challenge was tackled in a way to better myself in art. I was really excited about the concepts I had in mind. But that quickly dissipated to regret and frustrations as I grew impatient of myself.

Things I was drawing and enjoying, I was slowly disliking to the point of hate. And the more I hated my art, the more frustrated I became which made it even more difficult to execute the concepts the way I wanted to. This meant I was hating my art even more. The vicious cycle of self-loathing, right.

The longer this continued, I knew, would mean making less and less art. Honestly, whenever I get fed up with my own creations, I will take a step back and just not draw. I completely let the negative thoughts eat at me until it gets too full to move. That was my usual response to the struggles because I used to do the opposite way back when.

I would fight the block I was feeling and that usually made the art block or mental block worse.

For the past 3-4 years, I have believed in the idea that fighting the struggles or obstacles fuel them instead. And so I decided to swim the current. But the current will normally continue for weeks or months making it difficult for me as an artist to continue with work. So, I tried swimming against the current for the first time in a long time. The only difference from 3 years back is that, I’m not blindly fighting my way through. I’m not just jumping those hurdles without knowing what they are.

Knowing more about myself has lent itself in my approach.

I firmly believe that knowing how I am on a normal basis, how I am with my art, and how I am when it comes to my depression has made things way easier than they were years ago. I don’t think I’d be able to write this blog post now if I hadn’t undergone that journey because then I wouldn’t have this lesson that I’d learn this month to share.

Digital painting has been a difficult skill to attain for me. I simply have this disjointed understanding versus actual application. I can’t do it for the life of me (and I hope that I’ll be able to achieve at some point in the future). And it bothers me that I can’t do it, that I can’t put to use the understanding of the skill to, well, use. Rather, I’m stuck at a perpetual want of the skill.

That said, rather than letting it fester in me as I will usually let the negativity do, I pulled myself together. I let the thoughts sink in. I admitted to myself that I didn’t like how the pieces turned out. They suck. They’re not what I’d hoped for them to be. And basically told myself that I wasn’t accomplishing perfection. Knowing and telling myself this let the thoughts live with shorter spans. It’s almost like feeding your cravings.

You crave a chocolate cake and you eat the chocolate cake. You feel better. Craving gone.

You are frustrated with flaws that you have and you admit that you have flaws. This only paves way for you to get better. Knowing and admitting you struggle with them means less time being frustrated and more time with trying to figure how to fix/remedy or get better. Right?

At least for me this is true.

I gave myself time to admit these frustrations. After coming to terms with them, I continued to draw. I continued to fail. And then gave me time to be sad about it. Then I continued to draw. It’s basically the same cycle I go through. I let the frustrations sink in until they disappear on their own but rather than months on end, they lasted me days which in turn gave me time to draw more mermaids.

And though I don’t particularly love them all, I still am thankful for what this month has provided me.

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