Archive for artist

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

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 14, 2013 by Johnny Broken

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.



I’m A Failure: Episode 1 – I Can Draw?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 7, 2013 by Johnny Broken

To say I’m at a crossroads in my life right now is a bit of an understatement. My current dayjob sucks and my prospects for something to replace it with aren’t much better. However, I do have this faint glimmer of hope that I’d enjoy an artistic career, but that’s easier said than done. I mean at this point I like to call myself an artist, mainly because I’ve tried a little of everything. I also like to think I have at least SOME ability in the fields I’ve been dabbling in, but for one reason or another, I just get burned in everything I try. Maybe things would work out better if picked something and stuck with it, I don’t know. But anyway, seems like as good a time as any for the sordid tale of my history with drawing.

A long, looong time ago, in an elementary school far away, a new student joined my fifth grade class. He was pretty good at drawing, but for whatever reason, one day I looked at a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles picture he was working on and decided “Y’know what? I can do that too.”

I don’t remember being particularly inclined to drawing any more than your average little kid prior to that, but from that day forth I set about practicing in my own little way. I don’t know if there’s a particular name for it, but what I would do is look at a picture and try to re-draw it freehand on another sheet of paper, but maybe make it bigger or smaller or unintentionally shift an arm a few degrees in one direction or whatever. Whether or not I was any good at this, or if that’s something worth being good at I can no longer say, but I kept at it.

Several years worth of doodles and sketches later, I got noticed for my art for the first time. At the Catholic elementary school I went to, there was some class project and while I can’t remember what it was for, I can remember being nominated to draw the class picture for it. Again, I don’t remember if it was my idea, or I was told to draw a cross on a hill with a cloth draped over it, but I do remember my initial giddiness fading when I discovered I had to use pastels to color the thing. I’d never really used them at the time, but I guess even back then, I still preferred linework over coloring something.

The cross turned out all right, and it was framed and put up on the wall for the rest of the year. And yeah, I was proud of it.

I kept at drawing after that, mainly monsters and superheroes and cartoon characters. Entered some local convention art contests, never won anything though. Don’t remember anything else of note until high school, when I went out of my way to make sure I had the all purpose art class, which lead to one of the fondest memories of my life.

One day the teacher said we were going to use charcoal for the days project. (Now if you’re not familiar with artisticy charcoal, at the time it was literally a chunk of slightly refined charcoal in the vague shape of a fat piece of chalk. And messy as hell. I don’t know if the stuff’s changed since then.) The project in question was a drawing, which I was happy about, even if I didn’t particularly like charcoal. And then she revealed it was going to be a portrait. Ooh, I thought, this could be bad. Then the teacher told us we would all be drawing the same portrait of one of the students in the class. And as luck would have it, the most attractive girl in the class was picked to be the model.

Yeah. Hot girl. Schoolgirl outfit. And she was going to be sitting still in a cute pose. And I was supposed to draw that?

For once, life was good.

So I planted myself at what I thought was a good angle and went to work. I did notice that everyone else in the class seemed to scatter to the worst possible viewpoints, but to hell with them. I was going to enjoy this. I finished the drawing by the end of the class and handed mine in with everyone else. I wasn’t paying attention to what everyone else had done, but I did notice that the model girl was eagerly checking out the drawings. And by the time she got to mine, some of her friends were standing around her.

And I waited.

Now I’m possibly elaborating a bit here (this was a long time ago) but basically, when she saw my drawing of her, her eyes lit up, she gasped, grabbed the drawing and turned around to show her friends, “Oh! Look!” she squealed like a… well… you know. “John Broken drew my portrait!” (No, she didn’t say my pen name back then, but you get the idea, yeah?) To my surprise, the grin never left her face while she showed the portrait to her friends. Of course I was smiling too, I never had anyone brag about something I did for them before, artistic or otherwise.

(While I’m editing this it occurs to me that you might be thinking the fond memory here was getting to ogle a hot schoolgirl for like 20 minutes without getting in trouble. That was nice, don’t get me wrong, but that wasn’t the highlight of the day as far as I’m concerned. The best part of the day was hearing the hot girl brag about the picture I drew. I’m pretty sure that was the first time in my life I ever got that level of praise from someone I wasn’t related to for something I did.)

Save for a good grade and a fond memory, nothing else worthwhile came of that drawing. But hey, I was proud of myself for once, so I’m not complaining.

Episode 2 next week!