Just putting together some thoughts I've been struggling with for a while:
I've been uploading my drawings to tumblr for a while now. I see a lot of artists getting recognized there, especially ones who draw in cute cartoon styles and/or popular characters. My drawings have... not been successful. I'm lucky to get 1-2 likes when I post, basically. To be fair, I don't get much attention here either, because all my popularity came with horse drawings and I don't really do that anymore. Also, many of my watchers from that time period moved on to new sites or new interests.
And I guess I've been letting that affect me way more than it should. When I post something I hover around for the notifications and they don't really come. I've been thinking, look at all this work I put into this! I love it and I'm happy with it, so please reaffirm my feelings. But they typically just don't get reaffirmed, and so I get disappointed and start feeling like the thing that I made with love is not good enough, so I stop loving it and I lose confidence in my art. I compare myself to others who are more popular and it all kinda spirals from there.
Thinking like that negatively affects my attitude towards other people because A) it makes me feel entitled to praise when there's no reason for it; maybe I did a good job artistically but I shouldn't expect you to care about my OC's, and B) it makes me ungrateful for what notes I do get. There are people who actually enjoy my art or who just want to support me even when they don't have to and I don't appreciate that half as much as I should. Seriously, thank you guys.
But I forget how subjective popularity is. It's just what people want to see. Check out this drawing of Tendo from Pacific Rim I made: two minutes, MS paint. 51 notes; of my posts it's second only to a Homestuck series I drew and a portrait of Joe Walker's Umbridge. (I'm glad people liked that one. Shine on, girl.) Anyway, people don't really care about quality; the pieces I love the most are often the ones that get ignored.
So what matters most, what I love or what other people love? At this point, as a hobbyist and not someone who has to sell art, the answer is clear. I've got to ignore the farce of internet popularity and be proud of what I make. I put effort into this and I love it and if you don't, it doesn't matter because I still do. And if I'm proud of what I make I'll have more energy to pour into making new art that I can love. I mean, I love everything I've posted to my gallery! When I made those things I was proud of them and I wanted everyone to see. The hard part is just not worrying about the response.
I think affirmation has been so deeply rooted in my artistic self-esteem it's hard to stop depending on. I've been posting everything I draw online since 8th grade; I can hardly even remember what it was like to never have my art online. Back then people were wonderfully supportive, and that was a really good thing for me! I truly don't think I would be where I am today if it weren't for all the encouragement I got, especially at the beginning when my art was still pretty sad. Support growing artists, you guys! They have so much potential and they need encouragement to get there. But yeah encouragement is good when you have it but it's just learning not to rely on it that's important for me now.
Anyway, maybe I should stop posting online for a while and see if I draw more or less, just as an experiment.
Have a blessed Christmas / holiday season everyone!