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Horsie, age 10 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. 
'89 Valentine
'89 - sixth grade - age 11
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 Mermaid and dolphin '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. 
'90 - seventh grade - age 12 
Early figure drawings.  Oranutang arms were an issue. (note the clever hand-hiding-behind-the-skirt trick)
'90 FairyFairy, age 12
 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 have them.
'91 Roxy '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. 
'91 Venna
'91 Centaur 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 . . .
Mermaid, age 14
3-92 Dancer'92 Lady 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. 
7-92 - ninth grade - age 14 
I began to work on my facial features and the dreaded 3/4 view.  I also began to work with medias other than pencil.  This is a charcoal sketch, and I played a little with inking. 
11-92 - tenth grade - age 15 
I continued to draw things other than people, though figures and faces were clearly my main focus.  Starting in late '92 I also tried to work on my shading, which had been lacking in most drawings. 

Still had issues with drawing horses' heads too small.

11-92 Dragon
11-92 Pegasus
92 face
11-92 Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast, age 14
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 expressions. 

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. 
11-92 Venna12-92 Venna
2-93 Venna2-93 Iris 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. 
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.
6-93 - tenth grade - age 15
Block face.  Shading is still flat.
6-93 Venna 6-93 - tenth grade - age 15
Slanty eyes - playing with some new styles.  Shading getting better.
6-93 Venna
9-93 Venna 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
10-93 Iris
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 of shading. 

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 . . . 

11-93 Bird11-93 elf
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.
2-94 Venna4-94 Venna 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.

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.
Venna, age 16 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 . . .  

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