I’m A Failure: Episode 2 – Not good enough.

I kept at the artwork through high school with drawing pads that I carried around (and actually still have) and teach-yourself books and everything. But the art kind of fell by the wayside during my downward spiral into depression, suicide attempts, and getting suspended from school multiple times for the Satanism thing.

At the time I graduated high school, I was still overwhelmed with a mix of oh-my-gawd-what-am-I-going-to-do and oh-fuck-this, which doesn’t really motivate one to go to college classes or do any work. It also didn’t help that I went to a local “all purpose” college for art, when all I wanted to do was draw. As said college was pretty far from an art college, never mind one tailored to pencil based artwork, I had to take a lot of general art classes. “Computer Design” on a Mac. Collage 101, which was basically cutting and pasting construction paper and/or stuff from magazine. Woodshop, which wouldn’t have been that bad but the instructor assumed everyone had Woodshop in high school, and the Catholic high school I went to for 3 and a half years didn’t even have the class. There was a drawing class at the college, but again, it was “taught” by someone who assumed the class already knew how to draw. The “Instructor” just had the class draw different things. Which is what kills me, because I’m largely self taught.

I have a basic grasp of anatomy. I understand what goes where on human body, if I’m still a little sketchy (heh) on precise muscle location. I have a general understanding of how the human body moves. I have an idea of how perspective works. I can look at something non-human and re-create it in a drawing. But I’ve ALWAYS had trouble with the human head. I can never seem to get the proportions right, and while I can handle a face straight on, forget about trying to get a face to look right from any other angle. That’s what I need someone to give me pointers on. Which wasn’t happening at the excuse for a college I went to.

And speaking of that joke of a school, I’ll never forget an argument I had with one of the professors. “What’s the hardest part of the human body to draw?” She asked the class.

My hand shot up, “Easy!” says I “It’s the human face.”

“Wrong.” She retorts to my extreme confusion. “It’s the human hand. “ And then she started rambling on about how the flexibility of fingers makes it extremely difficult to draw the range of motion of a hand and fingers properly.

“B-but!” I interjected. “Everyone has the same kind of hands! But everyone has a different face, never mind all the emotions to portray!”

“No.” She countered. “Human hands are the hardest part of the human body to draw.”

And at that point, I pretty much lost my will to stay in that class, which was the last thing keeping me there. Seriously, bitch? You’re going to tell me your opinion on this is right and mine’s wrong?! Fuck this place and fuck you. Once you learn how to draw a hand, you’re good for any kind of person you’re ever going to draw. Every. Face. Is. Different.

I couldn’t take it anymore at that point. I hated the school. I lacked the self confidence to think I was any good. (Still do.) And I was about as suicidal as I am now. So any desire I had to keep at drawing just went out the window. I just stopped going to classes a few weeks later. Tried switching majors to philosophy, but that didn’t really work out either. Stopped going to classes altogether. Tried to make it look like I still was. I figured I was going to be dead soon enough anyway, why be miserable up until then? As you may have guessed, yeah, I’m still here. That whole “Why yes, of course I’m still going to college!” thing didn’t work out so well. Don’t really recommend trying that.

Cut to several years later, when I’m sitting on some comic book scripts that I wrote. The idea was to get others to do the artwork. Long story short, (which I’ll explain a little later in the I’m A Failure series) that… could have worked out better. I sat on the material for a long time until I finally decided, “Y’know what? Fuck it. I’ll finish drawing it myself!”

I got a page and a half into the early pencils, which reminded me that I was constantly thinking “Thank gawd I don’t have to draw this!” while I was writing the scripts. So, yeah, my comic is a bit beyond my ability to draw in a way that I’d be satisfied with the end product. It’d take me longer to get better at drawing to be able to properly draw the comic, than it would to actually draw the comic. And that was the end of that endeavor.

Skip ahead another couple years, when I had the opportunity to show my old sketchbooks to an established artist who works in the same building I do and teaches drawing on the side. I figured there was no harm in it, since, theoretically, I had like, a little talent. And hey, I was willing and kind of eager to take lessons from him. I started getting a little excited as I handed him the books. Then I began mentally preparing myself for all the comments and critiques and tips he’d offer up, and I even found myself getting a little giddy about getting back to the old board. Something diverted my attention at the time though, and I had to walk a few feet away for like a minute as he looked through my books. I came back, and the sketchbooks were already on my chair. That was fast, I thought. But the artist was sort of occupied, so I waited for him to start talking to me about my drawings.

And I waited.

Yeah… he never said anything. Which wouldn’t be so bad, but I still see the guy a couple times a week. To this day, he’s never said anything about my sketchbooks. I mean really, was my stuff so bad he couldn’t even be bothered to subtlety tell me I was beyond help? That debacle pretty much killed the remaining interest I had left in trying to pursue drawing in any kind of professional capacity.

-Johnny

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