Drawing was my First Love

 

I grew up drawing. It's one of the very few activities I've been doing since as long as I can remember.

My dad is an amazing artist, with an incredible gift for both realism and surrealism, and he would often do little drawings for me. I asked him to draw all sorts of silly things from his imagination, which he happily obliged. He wasn't a practicing artist for work by the time I was born (he had moved on to architecture and founding his own design-build construction company), but I showed a really strong natural interest in art, so he just sort of mentored me, showing me this or that over the years. I so loved watching him draw, it was such a captivating activity. He would draw little pictures for me to copy, and he helped me troubleshoot and overcome challenges in my own drawings, like getting a knee to look like more like a knee in a picture I drew of my family. He also drew my portrait one year, the memory of which I will forever cherish.

Throughout my childhood, I traced lots of imagery from all kinds of books and magazines as well, which is something my mom encouraged me to do, too. She was always so enthusiastic about my art. I remember I had a bit of an obsession with unicorns, and she took me to the library to get all the books we could find about unicorns so we could photocopy them for me to study and trace. I did the same thing with bride magazines (real life princesses!). I drew lots of horses and fairies from my imagination, too, and later became fascinated with copying photographs of animals from Zoobooks subscriptions. I wrote and illustrated several stories in elementray school, and I often got carsick on the windy roads where I grew up because I had my eyes down in my drawing pad.

Sometime in fourth grade, our entire class got to collaborate on a large school mural. That experience really stuck with me, and I realize how much of an impact that kind of activity can have on kids. I was so very proud of the horse I painted all by myself on that large piece of art that everyone in school would see everyday. May all our schools keep sight of this kind of creative art project for our youth.

In sixth grade, we had a local artist visit our class once a week for some time to teach us art. We had assignments to go home and observe and draw things from real life like shoes and paper bags, and I have the distinct memory of several of my classmates thinking that my parents did my art homework for me because it was "too good". I was so furious! That year, I sold art for the very first time in our class art show (I sold both pieces I had contributed), which was another pivotal moment for me. I took every single art elective available from junior high on, and when I got into high school, my drawings took a major turning point. I got into realism and portraiture, and would spend a week on a single drawing. My courage with contrast heightened, and my skills with shading and other techniques improved greatly. My art was often featured in the school paper, and I was voted Best Artist (as well as Best Actress and Most Organized) of the entire high school during my senior year.

I did a mural project with my dad for my senior project, which is where I first tried my hand at some actual painting. I had done maybe a small handful of paintings before then, but didn't feel like I really understood that medium yet. I enjoyed the challenge of muraling for that project, and although it was kind of a beast of an undertaking that ended up dragging on for several sporadic summers after, I learned a lot about paint, and well, the spirit of collaboration, perserverance, and follow through.

Drawing has taught me much about the world. From childhood to beyond, it has been a way for me to explore my surroundings, as well as my thoughts, feelings, and wonder and magic of the imagination. In general, creating any kind of art has always felt so natural an act, something I've always gravitated towards. That doesn't make it easy, which I think some people confuse, but creating art almost always seems to put me in the zone. It's my thing--a strong point of interest for me--one that consistently challenges me in all the right ways, and leaves me feeling utterly gratified and amazed.