I learned at a junior art college that art supplies were expensive. Entirely too often, it was a choice between lunch and art supplies. Eight hour studio classes blurred into shaking hands and hunger pains.
|Kinda gay for Bagley Spider-Man.|
|Seriously, how can you not love Buscema?|
Later, Mark Bagley's sharply drawn, ultra-athletic Spider-Man, with the same thick lines, but now built like he was a track running, weight lifting, aerial ballet dancer.
Very soon into art school, definitely looking like Bagley's Spider-Man had starved himself for a month, I realized that I couldn't do it anymore. I was tired all the time and hungry all the time and I could barely focus. When I got a job working construction and could eat more than once every two days, I kept drawing, but it quickly became clear that even when making a decent wage, I wouldn't be able to make rent and be an artist even on the side.
I had spent so much time in a fugue state of hunger to create that I didn't even believe I was naturally an artist. I thought I had to be nearly starving to create, like an alcoholic or a drug addict that had to get high to create. I was hoping I was done with it.
I gave up doing art even more, for money. I limited myself to a few sketch pads and never opened my art case. It was a sacrifice, though. Art for me, the best things I ever do, always involve something personal. Usually dream or an idea or a thought that would just not go away.
|30 second gesture|
I think my friends noticed this and they got together and bought me a easel large enough for even a two foot by three foot canvas.
It's among the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. It was something I truly needed but wouldn't admit to even wanting. The next year they would get me my first digital tablet. Later, I would pass it along to struggling artist friend who was encountering the same roadblocks I was. I couldn't not help them.
I used the easel when I ever could, but money was money and the less I had the less I painted. I completed about four pieces.
But I was still fighting it. I wanted nothing to do with art. So I enlisted in the Army.
I drew very little for a long time.
|Sir Darius Rope, third draft|
I was ashamed. Even as he was proud of me for joining the military, I felt like it was a plan B to him. It sort of was to me, too. However, the art world was so subjective, and the military was so objective that I was able to claim a kind of outsider status in both communities. And the paintings looked awful to me. No depth, worthless junk from an amateur that had no business holding a brush.
|Bird Rider, fourth draft|
But the itch was still there.
I became a sort of patron of the arts, but I still couldn't afford to buy any. Instead I gave away all my text books to people who wanted to learn how to draw or paint or what have you. I doodled and sketched a lot.
Another thoughtful gift would find its way into my hands, now a much larger Wacom tablet. Initially, I found myself just doodling. Gestures. Line drawings. I started using photo-references more.
I think the strangest part is translating everything I learned in art school, every technique and style and method, into a weird new medium. The cross hatching, the chiaroscuro, texture, light and line all had to be re-worked to work with these new tools. It's like a baseball player expecting to just be able to play a baseball video game and finding out everything is wrong. You don't swing a bat, you push a button. Blending colors to create light and shadow is a whole other process and that requires you accept completely different limitations than you would with paper or canvas with charcoal or paint.
|So much time and it STILL doesn't look like a cylinder...|
I go to a paper drawing class called Dr. Sketchy's to stay sharp. I tend to give away most of my drawings to the models, due to mild a superstition about keeping them.
I don't view myself as an artist. I probably never will again. I draw because I have to. Because there are things in my brain that I need to show people so maybe they'll understand me better. Maybe they'll see something that helps them. Maybe they'll see they can try it too. Hopefully it will help someone.