Monday, March 05, 2012

How It All Began

Not every artist or horse lover remembers when they first started down the path of their passion. That's because it's such a natural and deep love, that it usually occured or grew from the moment they could comprehend such things. For this reason, I myself cannot recall that moment, all I know is I liked the horses in my books and movies. I do remember I tried to draw them (usually *in* my books) in bulbous baseball-bat-heads.

The author's recreation of her former artistic style.
I will say, my mother tolerated the blatant vandalism of my books whether I doodled just inside the covers or just added horses into the story (did you know Peter Pan rode a horse into battle with Captain Hook? ;) Though I'm sure she wished I hadn't. I don't remember being scolded very badly about it at any rate. I think she finally just accepted that whatever I got in my hands was going to be given my own particular flair.

I *DO* remember however, the first time I wanted to learn how to draw better. I was maybe 5 years old, doodling on a pad of paper like a good girl in the back seat of the car while Mom was driving around doing errands. We stopped at the drugstore (where I usually begged for the cheap-o toys silly toys like wind-up animals and toy phones that beeped) so Mom decided I should wait in the car while she ran in to do her business.

"Draw a horse for me," she said. "But mom, I don't know how! Can you show me?"

So Mom took the notebook and took the time to draw a pretty darn good horse (I thought at the time) for me to copy. It was perhaps little better than a stick horse, but she use to be artistic and love horses like Roy Roger's Trigger. I sat quietly and did my best to follow her example.

My mother was also very instrumental in pushing me to do better. Whereas some parents would grit their teeth and smile and say how absolutely wonderful the nonsense scribbles on their child was, Mom was brutal! I remember drawing a picture of her and proudly presented it, a token of my love and affection for my momma.
"You gave me a pig nose!!! I do not have a pig nose!"

Ok, I'll admit it, I felt slighty crushed (and let's be fair here, I'm a short little kid at this time, when I looked up at adults, all I saw was something round and two nostrils!) But I went back and tried again. Not perfect of course, but Mom liked it much better. She kept up with the attitude however, not allowing me to get away with something I traced as being my own work. She always knew I could do better. Without her, I surely wouldn't be the artist I would be today.
One of my favorite drawings I did in High School.
Obviously needed to learn more about muscling...

I eventually got a little better with drawing. I did it often, sketching in class (to the frustration of every Math teacher I've ever had) as I would try to create dream horses, both thinking it was the best I had ever drawn and yet not thinking it was good enough. I wowed fellow students, and yet probably drove every art teacher I had to drink. I wanted to do my own thing and not always the asignment given. When I did do the work, it always involved a horse or it just did not get done. All this potential and I just puttered around.

I totally wasn't blind to instruction. For years I drew what was in my head, the images and spirit of horses. But I still needed to learn to draw what I saw. That epiphany was knocked into my head by one of my high school Art teachers Mrs. Eyster. She told me to look at my reference, to truly LOOK at it and try to recreate the lines, shapes, and soul. Of all the copying I ever did that helped me become the artist I was, I forgot to look at the source. Oh sure, I had tried to draw photos before, but I hadn't really looked at them. I have never to this day done a "grid" but somehow I finally connected what was the right way to go about this.

One of my rare colored pieces. Still not amazing but I was so proud at the time.

Drawing has dropped to the wayside for me. Sometimes I'll sketch a mane or particuarly difficult leg muscle group to geta feel of what I need to do in 3-D, but flat art has never been my true passion or talent. It did take a while for sculpture to sink in, and even longer for painting something 3-D to not look flat: just because you have a surface to help with shading doesn't mean it does all the work.

I would like to thank so many people who helped develop my most treasured skill. My art teachers throughout the years (Mrs. Shaffer, Mrs. Eyster, Mr. Griffis) the poor teachers who put up with my doodling in class when I should have been paying attention to isolese triangles or when the British invaded (7th grade science teacher Mr. Wertz actually grabbed my notebook and flung it across the room in the middle of class.... but returned it later with a note and smiley-face stickers, telling me to keep up the good work, just not in his class, lol!)

And of course, the one who influenced, suported, shaped and cheered me on since the begining: my Mother. It's rare to get a parent who understands and does the right balance or letting a kid walk on their own and knows when to bring that kid back to earth.

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