the incomplete artist

My renaissance as an artist and designer

Cats and Dogs (or how I started drawing)

When I began taking classes in Graphic Design I was horrified when one of my instructors informed us that he would be expecting us to make physical sketches of our ideas – a minimum of 40 sketches for every assignment. I have NEVER been able to draw – just not a skill I ever had or ever imagined having. This was going to be an issue.

My first sketch, I forget the idea it was drawn for, was supposed to be a picture of a basset hound. See the first picture featured below. It’s not good.

Eventually I was able to put together simple thumbnail sketches to at least communicate my ideas – see the line drawing of the cat with kittens. I began to be aware of the power of  lines, how they can be altered to improve an image.

The next semester included a required “Intro to Drawing”course.  I had a great instructor who encouraged me to “draw what I see”. Such a simple statement – it immediately took the pressure off – made it sound so easy. As we worked through artistic processes like perspective drawing, creating volume, different media, different styles,  I came to realize that it wasn’t always that simple. But the damage had already been done. Mr. Tsai had convinced me that I could draw.

One day in class, he brought out a box of fake fruit – plastic apples and plums and oranges for us to capture with colored pencil. I was not inspired. There was a pile of magazines stacked on a table in the back of the room. “If you prefer, you can draw something from a magazine”. I found an advertisement on one of the pages – for kitty litter. My drawing took shape and I could see that it was decent – I made use of colors, I used different strokes to capture texture, I paid attention to proportion, and,  during the end of class ritual, when all the students walked by each others work – someone actually said my work was good.

After the class ended, I didn’t draw for a while. But, bored one day, I decided to pick up a pencil again. I tried to draw a picture of my dog. My first attempt was awful – worse than the basset hound.  I almost stopped there, never to draw again. After several false starts (you can see those below) I somehow found my way and created a recognizable picture of Sir (dog’s name) lounging under the furniture . Its not perfect – still need to work on the eyes – but it captured him and I was satisfied.

Emboldened, I eventually drew a picture of my Akita, Tae. Still need to figure out eyes – but at least it looks like an Akita. And then I found a picture of a friend with her cat. Drawing people – a whole new challenge…

I am always so impressed and astonished by the talent of the people around me. I know that my skills are remedial in comparison. But I do know now that I have skills. Not sure yet whether or not I have talent.

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