Some say 10,000 hours of practice will give you a shot at mastery, and, well, Sophie has been putting in her hours. But she and I didn’t realize how much she has leveled up, and how quickly, until we ran across a couple of older drawing of the same subject and put them side by side.
Quick backstory: Terraria is a game she and her brother have played together since it came out in late 2013. At the time, Sophie was nine and Luc seven and they got really into their characters, Frederick (Sophie) and Terraria (Luc, and, no, I don’t know why his character was named after the game). Here are these characters, as they exist on the screen.
That’s Freddy on the left with his spiked armor and Terraria on the right wearing a crown. As part of the fun, Sophie-back-then drew a portrait of the two of them, just like they are here, only, “like they are in my head.”
She was nine. I remember her being pretty stoked at her first attempt at armor.
A year and a half later, then eleven years old, she ran across this drawing in her stuff and thought, I can do better now. So she decided to redraw.
Already so much change! She did this one with pencil and paper, scanned it in, and colored it on Photoshop. You can definitely see the influence of manga comics, which she was reading a lot then, and indeed, she did several comics with these characters. I like how she added the life-stats bar over each head.
Which brings us to the present, it’s a year and a half again later, she’s twelve. She stumbled across both drawings and once again thought, I can do better now. She doesn’t play Terraria as much anymore, but still, a redraw of this now iconic portrait seemed in order. Updated with her current skills and this time painted fully on Photoshop, of course….
Not too shabby. That’s a heck of a lot of improvement in three years. Sophie works on her digital painting several hours a day most days. Which makes me ask myself, what am I spending several hours a day getting better at? What do I wish I was spending several hours a day getting better at? Not watching tv or doing dishes, that’s for damn sure. I wish it were as easy to see progress in novel writing, but it’s not so obvious. I’d like to think I’m getting better. I hope I’m getting better. Sometimes I’m pretty sure I’m just spinning my gears, getting more bitter and less brave. It’s easier to create art when you are young and haven’t gotten kicked around so much, isn’t it? Or maybe that’s bullshit. Maybe it always seems easier for someone else.
I asked Sophie if she wanted to say anything about the drawings and she said, “Any artist starting out has to get that no matter how crappy you think you are now, as long as you’re practicing, you’re getting better. You can’t see it happening, but when you look back and compare, the results are night and day.” She’s so wise. I love how she doesn’t hesitate to think of herself as an artist, and why wouldn’t she? She’s doing the work.