I don't draw or paint like I used to. First of all, it hurts more now than it ever did. I used to be able to draw for hours and hours, filling up entire grade school days with pages of monsters and then moving on to more emotional artwork in high-school, to the point that my teachers would not even hand me my work and would glance over my shoulder with the other students to see what I would draw. I was a "gifted" student throughout most of my years in school, in advanced classes where we would learn other languages and would perform creative tasks all day for most of the school week. Remember that show "Head of the Class?" That was my classroom experience, but with art. Always with art.
But as I have become a full fledged grown-up, with bills, worries and the staple fear of death that we all share, my art has become too slow of a vehicle for my ideas. I can't work on a piece for days and days anymore. My ideas aren't that slow, my thoughts don't wait for the perfect line. So, I started to just take a brush and ink and some bristol board and now will just spit out an image and hope it seems like something good. I might construct it more if it seems cool, but usually I set it down and go on to another drawing, or off to read a book. I try to make a stack of 100 or so pieces of board and can do these quick pieces for quite a while until I have 50 or more.
I really, really miss that time of intense, detailed drawing though. Literally I would just sit there in my room, drawing, drawing drawing. I have a copyright that I filed when I was 12 for a character named Kit Krazy. I filled up my entire bedroom with drawings on standard paper, stapled or taped to the wall.
But I can't do it. I still think creatively, if not more so than I ever have, but my mind just doesn't sit still long enough to allow my body to sit still long enough to do the same.
My gaming is the same. I don't just play a game, usually. Usually I am trying to play a character, but not as in role-play. (I have covered this more than a few times on my blog.) I am trying to imagine what I would do if I were that character, or try to imagine his back-story. I try to put my own stamp on the game, or else I am just playing in someone elses world, and in someones elses artwork. But I can't sit still in one game, in one world, for too long. I have to keep looking and keep exploring, discovering new details about my character and adding all these details to the character at the core of all of them, the character of me. I have actually used Second Life as a "world" for my "main" character, where he is fully aware of all the other me's floating around in a billion different worlds. I know, I know, it's kind of a "god" move and not really a good thing to do in role-play, but all my characters are me, I can't help it, they have to be connected somehow.
When I was a kid, I would stop and roam around one single idea or story for hours, days or months. I would explore every nook and cranny of a character or an artwork until I decided to try another. But that is, in a way, boring as Hell to me now. It's not like I wouldn't rather work on grand masterpieces that take me a year to complete, it's just that I don't have the stomach or the one-track mind to do it anymore.
This is why, I think, free-to-play games have resonated with me so well. I can roam all I want, adding new worlds to the list that my "main" has explored. Just like all my artworks tell of some part of me (or at least of some part of me that existed at the time), all these characters have me stamped somewhere on them. The "main" that is me is composed of a million different character, some not even made yet, and has the collected memories of a million different digital experiences.
I had to be honest with myself and ask if it were simple laziness that has stopped me from sitting still for long to draw or to play games, and there is some small bit of that there. But if you look at the thousands of posts I have made (I have almost 4k on the Vanguard forums alone) or the videos I have made (near 70 at last count) and all the podcasts I have been a part of (over 140 episodes or something?) you will see that laziness is not really it. My physical pain from using my arms too much has the most to do with it, that ache that I get within 30 minutes of playing games with certain controls. As I type this my wrists hurt and will need to be soaked in icewater.
So, I really am pretending, playing or creating just as much, if not more, than when I were younger. I just do it in smaller chunks, dedicated to smaller bits of grand ideas. I slowly build up a character, story or drawing rather than try to push it out within an evening or three. And actually, this feels a little more like real life to me, for my characters to be built up slowly, sometimes very slowly. None of us "succeeds" at anything in life overnight, unless it was handed to us, and it should be no different for my characters.
I'm proud to be a mosaic. I'm proud to put my own creative stamp on my gaming and my life. And I'm happy to say that art will always be there for me, and I am sure I will return to it, stronger than ever, soon enough. For now I just want to explore a little bit at a time.