I’ve always wanted to be an artist. As a child, I loved coloring. I’m sure I probably tried doing a bit of drawing, but I don’t remember it. Apparently I realized early on that I had no artistic talent whatsoever. Forget the drawing board. It was back to the coloring books for me.
I loved coloring books, and I loved colors. I happened to be one of those rare individuals with an extremely high degree of color acuity. Unfortunately, as I’ve aged, my color acuity has diminished, a fact of life that I greatly regret.
As a child, I was a valuable asset to my mother who sewed most of our family’s clothing. Rather than taking previously-made garments along to the store when fabric shopping, she’d take me instead. “Will this match that blue blouse?” she’d ask. I could recall the colors perfectly and could always provide an answer. If she ever disagreed and bought a fabric I hadn’t approved, she found out I was right once she got home.
At various times, I tried learning to draw. I watched early educational television programs featuring artists like John Nagy. I was very young, but I still remember his demonstration on how to draw a Great Dane and tear little holes in paper to get the spotted fur just right.
It would have been a helpful trick if I’d been able to draw a Great Dane in the first place. I couldn’t. I tried. I failed.
Later on, I bought a few “How to Draw” books, but they seemed to think I was someone who already knew something about drawing and who just needed a little more instruction on how to improve my abilities. Sorry. I had no ability when it came to art.
At one point I did convince my mother to buy me a small set of oil paints and a canvas in hopes that the smell of the paint alone might produce some miraculous effect and turn me into an inspired artist. Nope. Didn’t happen. The best I managed was to slap a bit of paint on in some crazed imitation of “abstract art”, and it might have been all right if one of the family’s many dogs hadn’t managed to turn the wet canvas into a place to sleep.
Actually, to be honest, the dog’s artistic efforts were probably better than mine.
But then I discovered photography. I loved photography. I still do. If I couldn’t draw — and trust me, I couldn’t — I could at least capture beautiful scenes in black and white. Later I also enjoyed doing color photography, too. I’m very happy with a lot of my photos, but photography was never an art form I wanted to seriously pursue.
My next artistic venture came when I found digital art and learned about programs like Photoshop and Gimp. I don’t know all the technical “how-to’s” of working with those programs, but I’ve had a lot of fun playing with them.
Here’s one of my favorite “digital art works”:
Maybe I could have been content to remain a “digital artist” working with the many photographs I’d taken over the years. As it happened, though, my childhood love of coloring led me again to coloring books — grown-up coloring books this time. That, in turn, led me to gel pens and colored pencils, and once again those old yearnings took hold.
I wanted to be an artist.
Could I learn to draw? If I studied hard, applied myself to my lessons, and practiced every day, could I actually develop a little of the skill? I doubted it, but dozens of titles of “how to draw” books on Amazon insisted I could.
I looked through several, but as before, many of them seemed to assume that I was starting with some knowledge and skill. And then I saw Drawing Lessons for Beginner Artists by Kate Berry. I “peeked inside” the book and saw “Lesson 1: Straight Lines”.
Yes, indeed, this was the book for me. I spent ninety-nine cents on that first drawing book, and I consider it one of the best bargains for under a buck that I’ve ever come across. That book truly changed my life and has led me to a rewarding journey toward becoming the artist I’ve always wanted to be.