a reflection on art projects

It’s been a while since I’ve drawn. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since I’ve been fairly productive with my work, writing and other things. But I’m starting to get that “itch” to get back into art again.

Drawing is a relatively recent hobby for me. My mother is an artist, so I grew up being exposed to artwork. I learned techniques and styles, and was able to try out almost every medium out there: watercolors, scratchboard, oil crayons, paper mache, and I even vaguely remember taking tools to a block of soap stone to try to carve a small statue of our pet cat. I was quite artistic when I was very young.

But as I got older, drawing and painting and crafts took a back seat to other things, and by the time I was in college it had been phased out completely.

Then, a few years ago, I was feeling restless and on the hunt for a hobby. I wanted something new and fun that I could try. I wanted something I could be bad at and not care: something that would be expressive and fun, but that wasn’t part of my normal “self esteem” so I could be free to just try and fail and try again, and not be upset about it no matter what happened. I wanted something that I could practice and learn about that would be completely unrelated to anything else that was going on in my life: nothing to do with computers or writing or mathematics or science or fitness or even music.

So I picked up a sketchbook and started to draw.

That was in August of 2010.

I had some basic knowledge of shading and perspective and anatomy, from growing up with an artist as a mother. For my first real attempts on the sketchbook, I turned to mythology and science fiction for inspiration: drawing scenes from some of my favorite stories.

Pyramus suggests a meetingLearning from the Krenken


Then, for Christmas 2010, Jon got me an Intuos Wacom pen and tablet, and Corel Painter 11.  I was very unsure of myself, so my first attempts were all these very smeary, very “painted” sorts of pictures.  My themes were still inspired by mythology and science fiction.

Apollo and HyacinthusMy name is not Baba YagaGaia and Uranus


This was fine, but I felt like I still didn’t really understand the basics of my tablet. None of my lines were terribly precise, and parts of these pieces felt very sloppy to me. I thought maybe I jumped in too fast with very detailed pictures; so, I decided to go “minimal” for a while, and explore something simple: the “Calligraphy Pen” and “Liquid Ink” settings in Painter 11.

The EntrepeneurThe ChallengerThe Street Dancer


Around mid-2011, my mom sent me a fantastic present. I’d told her that I had taken up drawing, so she sent me an entire collection of some charcoal sticks and charcoal paper to work with!

Anton AntipovHomo TracheliotosStill Life


I have to say… charcoal is hard.  It’s messy and smeary and difficult to handle. So I was able to work with it a little bit, but… it was quite a challenge.

Meanwhile, I kept practicing with my tablet.   First, I played around with combining the calligraphy style that I had been working on with textures, but still keeping the very “illustrated” flat coloring style.

RejectionShapeThe Kiss


Suddenly, I was struck by an immense feeling of guilt: between the charcoal and the digital tablet, I’d been neglecting my pencils and sketchbook!

I wasn’t feeling very inspired, so I decided to give myself an assignment. For whatever reason, I thought to myself: I’m going to do a series of pencil sketches of gymnasts!

Brandon KenificBrett CoveyScott Vetere


Then at some point, I said to myself: God, I’m gay. All of this drawing I’ve been doing is about the gayest stuff I’ve ever done.  Gay, gay, gay.  I mean, come on: just look at it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But I didn’t want to get stuck in a “rut” and I certainly didn’t want to unconsciously fetishize my new hobby.

So I decided to go in a different direction with my tablet: horror.

Let It OutDead Cthulhu Waits DreamingThe Great Race of Yith


This is about the time that I also spent a couple of months working on my life-sized charcoal self-portrait.  That took up all of my artistic time and energy for a while, and when I was ready to get back to drawing I was ready to dive back into digital work (no dark smudges on the hands or charcoal dust on the floor, when working on my tablet).

But once again, I wanted to try something new, both stylistically and conceptually.  After suffering from a bit of a mental block for a few months, I did a couple of random doodles…

Gummi ElephantSad Spider


I quite liked these: the simplicity of them, and the humor.  So that  inspired me to do a series of funny scenes in a kind of cartoonish style.

Bunny's RevengeDo you need a hug?Death is a hippie


These are the most recent things I’ve done. Although the cartoon thing is fun and entertaining to do, I’m once again itching to try something totally new.  New style, new techniques, maybe even a new medium.

So that is what brought me to this point, where I’ve been looking over the twists and turns of things that I’ve tried so far. Some of the stuff I’ve worked on has been fun, and some has been tedious. Some of it I think turned out quite well, other things were “interesting exercises” but not anything I want to go back to. But in every case, it was fun looking it over and seeing “where I’ve been” in this new hobby.

So I thought I’d share it with you.

Now, it’s time to think about that I’ll try next. It could be anything!

I think I have an idea, too.  I’ve been to the art store and picked up some supplies.

I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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