It's likely that you're here for the same reason that I am: improving as a digital painter. This is a skill that takes practice, technique, and above all: determination. In today's blog post I'm going to ask you some tough questions about the way you spend your free-time, and how actively you're actually pursuing your goals.
There's Not Enough Time
When was the last time you told yourself "I'd paint if I had more time"? We've all got busy lives, and it's easy to let challenging side-projects slip out of the spotlight. Painting, after all, doesn't start showing positive results right away -- so it's easy to get discouraged. It's natural to allow your frustration win the battle, and paint less frequently. "I don't have enough free time" can often be code for "I'd prefer to spend my free-time pursuing fun activities". It's up to you to manage this urge, and to stay actively involved with digital painting.
Painting is Hard
There's no avoiding the difficulty curve for beginners. Painting can seem unrewarding for a year or more before the hard work begins to pay off. When compared to nearly every other hobby or pursuit, this is a dreadful proposition. But it will pay off. That's the key. Painting is hard, but through determination you will see impressive results. So how are you spending your free time? It takes courage and determination to knowingly fill your free-time with an activity that's frustrating.
If You Don't, Someone Else Will
If your goal is becoming a professional artist, determination is essential. Having recently progressed through a job hunt, I can tell you from experience: Concept Art is competitive. Making video games, movies, books is an extremely desirable job - and you can assume your competition is dedicated. If you're looking for motivation to paint, know that your steepest competition is probably doing it right now. I'm not encouraging you to eat, breathe, and sleep illustration - but it's realistic to know that your competition is extremely dedicated. If 1,000 artists want to be concept artists, they're potentially fighting over 10 jobs. With this in mind, it's reasonable that the 10 most dedicated artists eventually win the positions.
Dedication, Not Talent
From my experience dedication always beats talent. Talent is a starting point, but dedication is the rest of the race. Even if you love to paint, staying dedicated in the long term (years, not months) is challenging. But it's all worth it. The long nights, challenging critiques, and self doubt are all worth following your love of painting. So stay tough, and remember: you do have enough time. Use it wisely.