10 Most Commented:
'89 - sixth grade - age 11
||I started out drawing horses in elementary
school. I was really into horses as a kid. I bought an art
book - Walter Farley's How to Draw Horses, and from then on I was addicted.
For variety I drew unicorns and pegusi. My class notes had horses
all over them.
Here's an embarrassing piece of history.
This is a homemade valentine I drew, then made copies to give to my classmates.
I have always had problems with drawing my horse heads too small, but this
is a little ridiculous.
Then I got out of elementary school
and into junior high school, and I was just a little fish in a big pond.
I stopped drawing. I'd never really wanted to be an artist anyway.
My sister, who is three years younger than
me, continued to draw and improve. She was never into drawing horses
- she liked to draw people. She got pretty good at it - good enough
so that I felt threatened by her skill. Older siblings, you know
how irritating it is to realize that your little brother or sister is better
than you at something. Especially if you have a competitive streak.
So I started drawing people.
||'90 - seventh grade - age 12
Disney's The Little Mermaid marked a mermaid
drawing frenzy that lasted two years. Previous to seventh grade I
had only drawn horses, so this is one of my very first successful people
(err, mermaid) drawings. Many of my early drawings were done on the
blank sides of a 3" thick manual that outlined an emergency plan in case
the nearby nuclear power plant went kablooie. My sister and I found
it, removed the binding and used it for drawing paper. We also stole
typing paper from my mom.
I started a scrapbook of my
drawings. I put in the ones I liked or the ones I thought I learned
something from. This has actually been a very useful tool - I can
look back on my drawings and see how far I've progressed (or declined).
All of these drawings are from my scrapbook. Otherwise I might not
|'90 - seventh grade - age 12
Early figure drawings. Oranutang
arms were an issue. (note the clever hand-hiding-behind-the-skirt trick)
||'91 - eighth grade - age 13
This was the year I started to take an
interest in writing, and that worked its way into my drawings through character
sketches. This is a little drawing of Roxy, an anthropomorthic mouse
PI that was the subject of a series of drawings and some story ideas.
I couldn't ever manage to get her face to look right, so I drew her wearing
hats and lots of back shots. This scan is just smaller than actual
size - the original is about 4" tall.
|'91 - eighth grade - age 13
One of my very first sketches of Venna,
a character that is still the subject of current
writing and art projects. I had a lot of story and character ideas
in '91, but she was one of the few that I actually continued to work on.
I still hadn't gotten the concept of 'filling the paper' with the drawing,
so the original is only about 5" tall. I did tons of small figure
sketches like this in just about any pose I could think of.
||9-91 - ninth grade - age 13
Ever since I saw Fantasia I have been
trying to draw centaurs.
Lots of my early drawings were very light - I had to enhance the contrast
on this one to get it to look this good. :-P
|'92 - ninth grade - age 14
Still fixated on mermaids . . .
||3-92 - ninth grade - age 14
These are typical drawings for early '92.
Facial features were pretty much the same for each drawing. Long
torsos with very small waists. I drew lots of different poses, but
they weren't very dynamic. I also had problems drawing 3/4 heads,
so most of my faces were either profiles or facing forward. There
was very little if any shading.
||11-92 - tenth grade - age 15
I studied Disney films like the Little
Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. I went through sections
frame by frame and watched how the animators handled movement and facial
I eagerly awaited the next Disney feature
so I'd have more animation to study. I loved Sleeping Beauty and Fantasia. I copied - blatantly - Disney characters to
get a feel for the proportions. I wanted to be an animator.
|12-92 - tenth grade - age 15
By late '92 I had gotten away from the
'beady eyes' stage and I was starting to finish drawings that were bigger
than the 6" sketches I had been doing. I tried to put more effort
into details and shading.
1993 was a big year. Early in
'93 I discovered Elfquest
in my local library. Wendy Pini's style was tremendously inspiring.
I especially liked how Wendy would give each of her elves a different cast
of facial features - slightly different shaped eyes or faces, and I tried
to work that into my own drawings. I always knew that it was important
not to draw all my characters alike, but Wendy made it easy to see in her
work. It was not long before my 'bingo eyes' morphed into 'slanty
eyes' and I also started a block-face phase inspired by Wendy's elves.
||2-93 - tenth grade - age 15
After the 'beady eyes' phase I leapt headlong
into the 'bingo eyes' phase with proportionately huge eyes and looked like
they had just been shocked. My drawings still had a cookie cutter feel
to them, but after I got my hands on Elfquest in early '93 I started working
on varying facial features. BTW, the drawing on the right is one
of my very first drawings of Iris.
|6-93 - tenth grade - age 15
Block face. Shading is still flat.
||6-93 - tenth grade - age 15
Slanty eyes - playing with some new styles.
Shading getting better.
||9-93 - eleventh grade - age 15
I was still playing with different styles,
improving my proportions and working on understanding shading.
|10-93 - eleventh grade - age 16
I found a lot of new influences in
'93. Besides Elfquest, I also started watching anime and reading
more comic books. Comic book art is fascinating. I also took
a few art classes in high school, but I don't think they really helped
much. It was much more interesting to look at everyone else's 'fun'
art than to draw self-portraits and still lifes.
|11-93 - eleventh grade - age 16
Lest you think I never dabbled with color
. . . I actually did do some color work all through this time with
markers and colored pencils. I could never get it to look the way
I wanted, and to me the original pencil drawings always looked better,
so most of my work was in pencil. Heck, I was just getting the hang
These are a couple of character sketches
from cartoon show concept I worked on for fun. It was sort of like
the Gummy Bears (must admit to being addicted to Gummy Bears) only with
elves who rode pegusi. The pegasus in this instance was cleverly
named 'Bird' by one of the elves. Yup, still drawing horses . . .
To give you an idea of how much practice
this has taken me, the drawings on this page are just 29 out of over 350
I have collected in my scrapbooks. And those 350 were selected from
the more than 15 sketchbooks I have filled, and stacks of sketches done
on typing paper. That's 1500 pages just counting sketchpads - and
I've only been using sketchpads since 1993. If you want to know how I
learned to draw, that's how. :-) Often, my drawings didn't
turn out. Maybe 1 sketch out of 10 would be satisfactory. I
just kept drawing, even though it was sometimes frustrating. I'm
still disappointed by my shortcomings and my skill is nowhere near what
I would like it to be. I know the best way to change that is through
practice, so that is what I will continue to do.
||4-94 - eleventh grade - age 16
Working mostly on shading and also trying
to keep features consistent.
In 1994 I mostly just built on what I had
learned in '93, trying to improve my shading and make my drawings more
dynamic. And I continue to work on those same things. It's
easier for me now, but the struggle is the same.
||I believe that the only way for a person
to learn to draw is to sit down and do it, and to keep doing it.
Looking at other people's art helps also - to use as a stepping stone
to create your own style.
Hopefully you found this somewhat entertaining.
Whenever I look at the work of an artist I admire, I wonder what their
drawings looked like when they were 12. Everyone loves to display
their current work, but no one puts up their old crappy stuff for some
reason . . .