Getting Lost While Chasing Riches

1. (Don’t) Punch The Ball Bearings

Years ago I saw a video of monks who practice for years, punching bags of dry beans, to get their hands strong enough to be weapons.

After several years of beans, they switch to a bag of gravel.

After several years of gravel, they switch to ball bearings.

This was supposed to prepare you for idk punching through brick or something; my therapist waved me off of it; it is not recommended to follow something like that.

In fact, my therapist would find many different instances in my life’s plan where she’d ask, is this like punching the ball bearings maybe?

I graduated high school in the mid aughts, and it felt like a person with a vision or a dream could use the internet to make their fortune.

I now recognize how I jumped into that choice, in a manner that was very punching the ball bearings.

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” -André Gide

For years, I liked that quote, because it mirrored my experience.

I was trying to find a life that was very different from the one I had prepared for in high school, and I did feel for years that I was lost at sea.

Years later I’d run into a quote that was something like this, in a meme:

“Funny how pirates went from island to island looking for buried treasure, when the real treasure was the friendships they made along the way.”

Instead of being someone who went from land to land seeking glory, I wish I had put more emphasis on the shared experiences I could have built with people along the way.

2. The Hardest Part Of Drawing

I use vector art to skip over one of the three components that go into every drawing.

To create an illusion of a 3D world on a 2D surface, you have to know a lot of the strategies and techniques involved in using lines and gradients to represent a believable subject.

Anatomy is used. Color theory. Composition. A whole bunch of learning goes into making the drawing make sense.

Then, muscle memory is used to make the lines of the drawing elegant. If you look at your own drawing attempts and feel like they are wobbly or jagged, that’s because people who draw for a living have trained their bodies to create such smooth lines that we see in final products.

I skip that.

I use vector drawing to click with a mouse and draw straight lines over my sketchy lines.

Pure artists hate this. They love how hard they worked at the painstaking process of getting their body to cooperate with their drawing.

I’ve got places to be.

I want to learn that muscle memory someday, but as an enrichment, not as a requirement.

Because the third part of drawing, I think is the most important, and is most often overlooked by pure artists.

What are you going to draw?

You can find a great number of people who have drawing skill, but they struggle to find something worthwhile of their own to draw.

That’s because learning what to draw is as complicated as learning the strategies of making the drawing fit a 3D world into 2D space, and many artists skip some or all of these.

Writing a story, figuring out emotion, understanding action, understanding conflict, connecting with the viewer-

These are the skills of knowing what to draw, and they can be developed long before you ever pick up a pencil or drawing tablet.

One of the major benefits of the stupid way I lived my life, sailing off into the distance hoping to find treasure, is that I found a lot of experiences which shaped me and gave me a point of view and something to say.

It takes me about ten minutes to come up with a scenario for the thumbnail for these articles. The thumbnails are the result of an entire multi-year course I took to understand what makes people get clicked on or not.

I don’t think the thumbnails are award winning, but actually there is no proven perfect thumbnail.

The methodology of thumbnails is that of advertising: you must try out multiple variations and study what gets the best results.

There are plenty of artists who cannot come up with anything for their characters to do, because they do not have a life that led them to speak out.

My visual creations are here to serve a purpose.

The character in my thumbnails even skips the first part of drawing, the formatting of a 3D world into a 2D space, because: It’s 3D!

The reason for it to exist is not to be a testament to artistry techniques. It’s a tool.

It was a different set of difficulties to get that tool working, but now that I have it, it’s only as useful to me as I am smart enough to know how to employ it.

I’ve had 3D characters for twenty years and not been able to do much good with them.

I don’t like how cruel and isolating my journey was at the start, when I decided not to get employment but go out on my own, become my own boss.

But it gave me direction.

I can teach anyone how to sketch something 3D onto a 2D surface.

And you can practice the muscle memory exercises if you’d like to have more confident lines. (Mostly you practice drawing straight lines and drawing ellipses.)

But to get someone who has no clue who they are, to be able to know what visuals to create, that would be nearly impossible. That’s, “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.”

I made some stupid choices in my life. Some may still very well come back to haunt me. But one of the upsides is that my life is rich with experience, and that experience makes it easy to know what to create.

3. Living Patreon To Patreon

I would be appalled to find out I’m 36 and still not only not a millionaire, but that I make about twenty five bucks a month, and the rest of my life’s expenses are still paid for me.

If I had known that I would lead such an embarrassing life, I am not sure I would have gone the way I did. I think I would have gotten my ass back into college and finished a degree, any degree, and gotten some work.

There were reasons why that didn’t happen naturally, but they’re a bit too intense and airing my therapy laundry to put in this article.

This is the way I went.

It has been lonely and fairly penniless.

But I do love the things I have and can create.

Right now, I’m half-way through Paul Scrivens’ 30 Days of Prompts to fill up your content. It’s been great; I really needed the practice and training.

Because about a month ago, I produced a prototype of something I’m very proud of, but it requires a lot of explanation.

It’s one of my simulators, and it is designed to confront a person with how cavalier we’ve made our roads, through an overlay of triggering your fear of heights. It’s a sim based on a painting commissioned by the Swedish Road Association.

I live a weird life, and my contributions are strange, and unusual, and require extensive explanation or they are misunderstood.

These days, when I wander, to paraphrase Tolkien, I am not lost.

Lose sight of the shore for a long time and you may discover new lands. I wish I’d found a way to discover friendships instead of the largely solitary journey I’ve been on, but I know how to navigate now.

I hope I can chart some interesting paths going forward.

The above post was an entry for Paul Scrivens’ 30 Day Prompt Challenge.

Prompt: Would you have gotten on that ship with Columbus with the promise of discovering new riches in the New World?