Yesterday I had to arrange some stuff in my studio. This lead to the digging out of very old drawings and unequivocally to a time-jump to a very distant past in my artistic life that I though I’d share with you.
The story beings as follows: A long time ago a fellow artist told me to save all my drawings, regardless of the ugliness or whatever I might find as an excuse in them to throw them away; That I should always keep them on binders for future reference. To make a long story short I did kept them and nowadays I have a huuuuge collection of drawings going from the “omg my eyes” to the “I’m think I’m gonna be blind at looking at this”. Despite the shock of seeing how I used to draw, I was able to see a path chronologically documented in drawings: my artistic road, from the moment I decided I would do this beyond a mere hobby up until today.
I wanted to dedicate a post to this. Not only for myself (as we artist use to be ‘oh so over dramatic’ over what we consider to be “little progress” in our art), but to the younger artists out there who more often than not come to me and ask me how to get things things done. Since I do not like to give drawing advice -unless you ask about something very specific- I though I’d write a post about it, showing the road I’ve traveled throughout the years of drawing and how practice does make perfect if you commit yourself to the craft.
Ok, so the image above was a fan art I did when I was 14. I obviously was very keen of manga and anime and I still have the manga I copied this from. I remember that I was seriously mocked by several acquaintances because my way of learning how to apply colors and such was by copying artwork (I never ever traced things. you can also notice how I never drew the hands properly. They looked like mishapen claws XD). I learned anatomy -as much as I could- by looking into fashion magazines. I learned my mimicking other’s people’s work (most of it classical painting). Like training wheels on a bicycle and when I was ready I let those go. I was not exent on criticism. One thing you should know about this business is that people are going to criticize you on the drop of a hat and will be always very ready to tell you “you should not draw” “you are not talented” “stop drawing” “I’m better than you” which basically means “please give up on your dreams”.
True, drawing -if taken seriously- is not a thing that can be picked up just once and left on its own. Practice is everything. You can see it like this: Every artist is an athlete, and only those who practice hard enough go to the Olympics and the very, very best win the medals.
In my case my drawing took different paths since I started really drawing and worrying about colors and anatomy when Manga hit hard in the west (that means I drew most of my life and started to worry about this and that when I reached teenage-hood). As you know I’m a huuuuge fan of STS, so there were characters that were heavy influenced by the trend set by the anime and I gladly followed. Even when I consider myself more influenced by western cartoons than by anime, Araki style heavily shaped my lines. I remember drawing the three little girls while on a class. I always carried a huge drawing notebook and a box of crayons (my weapon of choice) everywhere I went. I remember having my face all freckled with crayon dust XD.
This was done I guess, a year later. I remembered I liked this drawing because of the colors. The one showed here is cropped, but even now after so many years I found it to be successful in the choice of colors. So much that I’m planning on redoing it some day. Anyway, the manga style was there but when I started to get off the training wheels and I was done of emulating the japanese, I emigrated to western style :D
But as I started to depart from manga style my drawing became somewhat… misshapen.
The strangest drawings are from this era (go to Toybox, my sts archive. my drawings are all kinds of strange) . I think the next five years I was slipping all over the place, but I was trying to find my own voice and I cannot stress how hard this was (At least it was for me). Up until today I don’t think I have quite found it, but certainly every time I draw something I do feel that what I draw it’s really mine.
Now, in 2014 I got all nostalgic for old times. I don’t want to sound over dramatic but now that I do this professionally, sometimes it’s hard to remember the fun in drawing. Not because it has “stopped” being fun, but precisely all the pressure of getting the job done and on time can sometimes be weary on the long run. So when drawing life weighs on you, it’s always fun to return to old stories and characters ^^(yay!). They seem to always have the answers when in doubt. At least my girls reminded me of the long road behind me. This was certainly an eye opener and a reassurance that everything (at least when drawing is concerned) can be achieved through practice. If you really want it, practice hard, and you will eventually get there. Study and practice. Surround yourself with people that want to help you and remember, not all people will have the insight to see your future abilities, so don’t take harsh criticism as a definite statement of your artistic abilities. Only you can decide what you can or cannot do.
Seeing my drawings, I have to admit I had no clue whatsoever about drawing at the very beggining. Can’t say I have all the answers in the tip of my pencil as of now, but I do feel more secure and know where and why I’m heading where I am supposed to go :)
And before I go, this is a speed painting video I did of one of the girls. I posted it a while ago on youtube, but I moved it to vimeo. Hope it helps.