My art now and then

I began to draw in 1994 during a period of personal crisis. The act of creativity in it’s simpleness was very cathartic. I am self-taught through books and internet site tutorials. Now I draw to improve my few skills and techniques and for the sheer joy of creating artwork that pleases my eye. I will begin with the then and work my way along to the now; a documentation of progress. I find it interesting to see the changes over time…I find it inspirational….ofcourse that is likely because it is a personal journey revisited. There are works to be scanned as yet therefore this is just a statement of intent…coming soon…1994.

In 1994 I began to draw with the intent of creating something recognizable. I selected my subjects from various books that contained photos that I could see clearly…some of which were of the how to draw genre and some that were not. The drawings after the masters were in fact from a how to book “How to Draw Like the Masters” or something of that nature. By emulating the strokes of the masters and all that I found it at least rewarding that I could make a line on the paper that kind of resembled what it was supposed to. The amazing photographer, Maplethorpe (unsure of the spelling) in a book from the library showing his photos, was the biggest inspriration for the flowers I drew. What wonderful practice it was to work from excellent photos. I had no intent to copy per se…just to develop a sense of how to get something akin to his perfection from the end of my pencils…onto the paper. As I looked back into some of the books that I used photos from to render the subject…quite often I discovered that although the work resembled for example a human being or a flower…the resemblance was less and less obvious after a length of time away from the work. Such was my skill set at the time. However there was improvement developing. And, however inexact and timorous the pencil strokes were… it was a beginning that I could feel good about on a personal level. I tried out coloured pencil, acrylic paint and water colour during this period as well. I found it then, much the same as I do now, a more difficult medium to work with. Generally I have always found color to be confusing to my creative process. And yet, I try it over again every once in a while.

In 1995 my confidence in what I could put down on paper grew with every new entry in my sketch book. I truly felt that I could continue to improve if I kept up the practice. Again I selected photos from the books around me and drew and redrew what I saw in them. It was a feel good process for the most part. I was learning something new every time I picked up my pencils to draw. I still knew very little about the artistic principles of drawing and shading and perspective I simply wanted to put on paper what I could see and translate at the end of my pencil…without any real learned technique. There were messes and failures and times when nothing came through. But, there was also a feeling of accomplishing something I had been long ago told…that I could not do….draw.

From 1994 to 1996 inclusive I was totally wrapped up in all things Georgia O’Keefe…especially her series of intimate floral paintings. I bought a calendar of these prints and spent hours working and reworking my renditions of her amazing works. I felt I could learn a lot from emulating her way of looking at the world. I did several passable graphite drawings, relative to my skills at the time, over this period as well as dabbled with acrylic paints. I should give some of them another go some day…a critical examination of how my use of the medium has changed over time….hmmmm…curiosity peaked.

1997 proved to be a period of emotional chaos,  sporatic art and creativity. Many of the pieces that I worked on during this period were intensely personal and though they served their purpose very few survived destruction. For me this was necessary and possibly the very reason for their emergence onto paper…to be laid to rest as it were forever. For the most part life was too exhausting to allow for creativy that did not have an exact cathartic and beneficial effect.

As I look back at the art I managed to produce in 1998, it is not too surprising to see very few pieces. I still had a strong desire to create and learn but there was neither the time nor the energy to do so. I had scads of time…what with the loss of my job…but new interests gobbled up my time…I began training for  my new career at age 48…working with horses. And, in my spare time…there was the riding of same. At least until I broke my ankle and 2 ribs flying off of one. And the list goes on from there, one thing after another gobbling up my time and energy. What I did draw…though…I truly enjoyed and felt that I had shown some progress.

The work I produced in 1999 involved my own creativity as opposed to redoing something someone else had created to see is I could do something that looked like it with the few skills that I had. There is not a lot to show for that period of time, but, it is original in inception at least. That was a step forward in a way. I experimented a lot in my sketchbooks.

The year 2000 was transitional for me regarding how I chose to approach art and my desire to create something artistic. After many, many attempts to create art based on a completely original idea I decided that I had to first develop my skills with graphite. The most uncomplicated way to do so, for me at least, was to continue to work from photographs to see how well I could create a reasonable reproduction. The dragons of 2000 were the last of my own imagination created pieces for years to come. Straight through 2000 and 2001 I concentrated my efforts on “how tos” and sketchbook practice.

I produced my first commission work in 2002 for a couple who owned two thoroughbred mares and who wanted a drawing of each mare with her foal of the season. The drawings were a creative combination of the horses from photos that I took myself by spending a day lurking around the paddocks. Unfortunately the photos that took of the final drawings are off due to poor lighting but they are a record of my efforts in any case. When I look at the work now I can’t help thinking that I could have done better now that I know more about graphite and setting it down on paper.

Through 2003 I began to create drawings from photos I had taken at the farm where I worked. I began to get a better grasp of horse portraits. I had been working with horses every day since 1999…there were times that I felt totally immersed in horse behaviour, anatomy, and all things horse. To be able to create a believable drawing of these wonderful creature felt like an amazing gift.

In 2004 I created exactly one piece…a gift for my mother. I have it back now as she has passed away. The drawing itself has an ethereal feel to it…I created it specifically to send to her and so had her in my mind as I worked on it. She had already reached that point in life where reality and memory blurs randomly.

In 2005 my dear miniature poodle Dexter died at age 14…I drew nothing…I left my job of 6 years. I remade myself again…this time as a dog groomer. I still maintained my farm sitting business for my regular clients while I worked as a dog groomer. I finally pulled myself out of my drawing blocked frame of mind late in 2006 and again in 2007 to create the dog portraits of Katana and of Duke and Duchess as gifts for one of my farm sitting clients when these dogs died. I have as yet to draw my own beloved Dexter…some day I will.

In 2008 I retired from commercial dog grooming in the big city. We moved out to the Cariboo on acreage close to lakes and streams and “the middle of nowhere”. Most of the year was spent building our home and living in a camper while doing so. I managed a few drawings toward the end of the year when we finally moved into the house.

The year of 2009 was prolific in terms of the art work that I created. Most pieces were for learning how to use graphite more effectively. I gleaned as much info as I could from several drawing tutorial internet sites and put it to use as I went along. I could see improvement in my skills and drawing confidence every day. I ended up with 57 drawings for the year. Many grace the walls of the dog grooming shop we built on the property and the rest surround me  in my art loft. A wonderous and inspirational year!

This year, 2010, is less prolific in quantity but is proving to be a process of  creating more in terms of quality…such is my motivation at least. I find myself moving toward exacting my techniques in order to produce a more realistic result. As I prepare to begin my third commission of the year I am both enthused and in awe of what has come my way creatively.

11 thoughts on “My art now and then

    • Thank you,Debbie, for stopping in. I definitely feel like I am a work in progress when I look back at my art work. It is both a rewarding and inspiring to receive your comments and interest.

  1. Hi, Eldy. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I’ve enjoyed browsing your space and checking out your artwork. I understand about being “blocked.” For the past several years, writing has been torturous–and it used to be the thing I loved most. That’s why I resigned from my journalism job and turned to dog grooming. My hope is that by working with animals and by blogging about the experience, I’ll regain that creative spark. Take care. ~Vicky

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