There's that old saying, "Do what you love and you never work a day in your life." It's a great, starry-eyed expression that I find holds some value. That being said, "Do what you love and you never stop working" is more true--at least for me. I my career at this point is very close to my ideal, dream job. Is it true that I never work a day? ...Let's just say I've been so burnt-out before that I got jealous of office workers--simply because they were able to go home and be free from work until the next day. I'll dive deeper into this subject another day.
I spent the better part of thirteen years doing art after work was done. When I went home from school, I drew. When was done with homework, I drew. Of course I did other things here and there, but most of my spare time was spent drawing. I loved drawing so much it was as essential to my being as breathing. However, I found out about two years into my dream career that even I had my limits and needed to cap art making after a certain amount of time. But what do I do? I can't draw. That's what I do for my job, and I need to take time to rest and do other things.
I spent a good deal of time strictly limiting any art or drawing to work hours. I was to do no art during my time off. This was good in theory, but remember how I mentioned that drawing was as essential to my being as breathing? In other words, my free time felt pretty empty. Sure, I had a good time playing video games, watching YouTube, and going out, but my free time still felt hollow. More recently, I allowed myself to draw if and only if it was for the fun of it. This was challenging, since it still felt like working. It was a lot of fun, but so is my job, and I was still at my work desk.
Luckily, James Gurney released a great video, announced via email with the subject, "Now is a great time to learn to paint in gouache". This caught my attention because I've been on-and-off relearning traditional paint since I left university, and gouache is one of my favorite mediums. Needless to say, the video lit fire under my feet. I pulled out my paints and cleared off a small table--one I put in my office specifically to do traditional art whenever I got around to it--to do the first exercise in the video.
Either way, it was such a joy to make these paintings, and I certainly would like to pursue it more. Obviously, my first passion is comics and narrative art done in a traditional animation-esque style, but painting is quickly turning into something that I look forward to doing during my time off. The analog nature of painting versus the digital nature of my comic work makes it a perfect activity to do in my free time. It satisfies my need to make art without feeling like I'm doing my day job. I still have a long way to go with painting, but what thrills me is that--given the nature of hobbies and free time activities--it's less about what I end up making and more about the activity and learning. This best captures the spirit of when I made art growing up. I was excited to learn, to do, without the obligation of work.
So if I gave you--or even me in 2018 during the peak of my burn out--some advice about what to do during your time off if you work your dream job, it's to find something to do that's still what you love, but different enough to feel like you're doing something else. In a perfect world, it should be something that could take you outdoors. Thankfully, my paint set up is relatively portable, and I'm looking forward to taking it outside sometime.