Drawing of a John Singer Sargent sketch, circa 2000
When I was around 14, I began drawing more frequently. This was around the time my parents were going through a divorce and I feel it must have been a therapeutic thing for me to do to get through those tough times. We didn't have a computer nor the internet at the time (this was again, 1997! Computers were still very expensive and so was the internet for the average family).
So, I started drawing. And, for some reason, I couldn't stop! Some of my earliest inspirations to start drawing more were the Beatles, old movie stars, and an artist who I knew very little about, John Singer Sargent. I believe I was introduced to his work due to a book of his I bought at Barnes & Noble that was on discount (another free and cheap thing we'd do since money was scarce due to the divorce).
One time, my Grandma loaned us a box just stuffed of old family photos - all taken around 1910-1920. It was a perfect time to loan them to me, as Titanic was coming out that year and that era was sort of all the rage. It's still my favorite era for fashion, next to the 1950's. At this time, I was starting to think of better ways to improve my drawings. I started to use tracing paper over clear plastic that I had trace over with a Vis d' Vis fine point dry erase pen. By tracing many people's faces over and over, it really got me accustomed to how to draw the human form. Eventually, I know longer needed this way of tracing to make a good drawing. I was finding myself obsessed with drawing. I couldn't get enough of it. I'd sort of be hermit-like in my room and draw all day and even well into the night. I think it was by far the best therapy I could give myself during a tough time. I was being home schooled, as well, so I had some liberties with my time. But, it was worth it. I was self disciplined enough to get my work done and it really kept me out of trouble with other kids and less distracted by going out and doing things I shouldn't do. I was lucky to have a few friends from elementary that I still hung out with from time to time, so I never felt alone. It worked really well for who I was and I have no regrets (I went on to college and graduated with Honors, so it goes to show home schooling is not any better or any worse than going to a regular high school - it just works better for others!)
A copy of a painting of a 1912-1913 woman, circa 1998
When we received a used computer in early 1999, I noticed my enthusiasm for drawing slowly dwindling. The internet was all the rage and really at it's peak at this time. The whole Y2K and Dot.com boom was taking hold of everyone and shifting our attitudes towards communication and having the world at our fingertips. However, I still was very disciplined, mostly through about 2001-2002. Not long after this time, life just started to get in the way - I was juggling college and work and a relationship. I can see why I was having a tough time keeping my drawing and painting skills intact during this time.
Emily Sargent (original painting by J.S. Sargent), drawing by me, circa 1999
Now, fast forward to the year 2015. My drawing skills have been somewhat disabled. I can still draw well, but my perspective drawing needs some work. I have bad carpal tunnel and a cyst on one hand which makes it difficult to draw (painting is not as hard). I still draw and paint just so I don't lose my skills completely. I mostly photograph for now, as I like to photograph for painting and drawing references. It also helps fulfill my need to be creative.
I often look back on this time where I was most prolific in my drawing and I partly admire myself for persevering through it, even when I had no formal education on how to draw. I look back on it as a time for growth and looking deep down inside of who I was at the time and as a reflection of who I was to become. Going through my past art work gives me feelings of a pensive state of happiness. I have memories attached to each and every drawing/painting, whether they are good or bad.
One day, I know I will draw and paint more. But for now, I am happy I ever did it at all.
My cousin Tiffany and I, next to a painting of mine that sold at an art show in the Spring 2001.