It's been a while since I've posted a journal, and the last year and a half has been interesting, to say the least. This last week marked some changes, a relief from some long-running sources of stress...and prompted some reflecting. I didn't really like everything I saw.
Without going into a full life-story since I've joined DA, art has been a hobby which I've struggled for quite some time to find a good balance with around other life things. I also deeply enjoy the field of engineering I've gone into as a career, and this interest suits me better for that purpose.
I've never offered commissions or anything horribly "official" with my art, primarily because I don't want to let people down if I can't hold up deadlines, and I don't want it to become more obligation than escape. Over the last 7 years this has gone from working around high school, to college studies, then ultimately fitting it in during my spare time outside work.
On top of this, I'm quite private about my art with people I know offline. It's deeply personal to me, and prior to joining DA I had some major harassment issues. So, I'm selective about how I share it and I'm not accustomed to promoting myself in this respect.
The beginning of 2014 was marked by me cutting ties with what had turned into a rather toxic social situation with the remains of my friends from earlier forum/IRC days. I rebounded by firing off more art than I had in quite some time. This is when I began numbering my submissions. Mid-year, changes with coworkers started to sour what had been a nice work environment. This started getting bad around Christmas time, and overlapped with a rather rough but necessary break-up that I'm still dealing with the consequences of.
Basically the last year has been hellish levels of stress at work and personally. I've been progressively squashed under a coworker's thumb with no clear recourse, and outside work have been dealing with being an emotional punching bag.
A little more than a week ago, I had a long talk with my boss about the situation. It went far better than expected. I then went on vacation for a week.
This was probably the first time in a year I've been able to truly relax and think clearly. I hadn't realized until experiencing alternating complete calm and sobbing fits that I've been pressed to the point of emotional numbness for quite some time now.
I also realized my art has been virtually nothing but vent art for as long as I can remember at this point. This prompted some realizations.
I realize I've never really formed close or lasting connections with other artists on here....and consequently I've only ever been just "existing" here. I know some people through group chats, some on Tumblr, but that's about it in terms of interaction. I've never really participated in group activities, artist collaborations, challenges, or exchanged much critique to speak of. I've never really interacted with the artists I respect and admire while advancing as one.
I know I've advanced in skill significantly since I joined DA, but I feel just as "on the sidelines" as I did when I joined, if not more so. To be honest, I've felt downright bitter about it at times. I had previously chalked it up to not doing commissions and having to promote myself for that...something I didn't want to *have* to do to get past this slump, as it's a personal hobby. I've felt like I'm spinning my wheels with something that should be genuinely fulfilling, and only just identified why because I've been braindead with other crap until now.
Realizing all this now feels like I've missed a very important bus.
There's no real "conclusion" to this braindump yet. I'm still processing it. The short of it is, I'm rethinking how I go about things here, and looking for new things to try.