answering your questions
Today, I am answering the questions that readers asked me a little more than a week ago. There were just two of them and they both had to do with art! So, without further ado, here is the first question, which was asked by Nonnie Vivian:
How has your artwork improved so quickly in such a short period of time? And your art work was super good before!
Answer: Before I give a direct answer, I will tell a story about me. When I was about fifteen years old (which is now a very long time ago), I suddenly decided that I had no talent and that I wasn’t going to do any more art. Well, as you can see, that didn’t work. I had a mother who nagged at me so relentlessly about doing art that I gave in, and started drawing and painting and taking classes. In one of those classes, I met a woman who said that talent was overrated. she said that practice and effort had more effect than talent. Most people aren’t born with a whole lot of talent, but, if they practice a lot, they can improve their skills.
And so, I think that is so with me. Lots and lots of practice. In the past four months, I have been drawing and painting every day, exploring a variety of mediums and art styles. And then, late in May, I was told about the “Daisy Yellow Index Card A Day” challenge. Apparently, it’s been an annual event for the past fourteen years. I had never before heard of it. It sounded like fun so I decided to do this challenge. I have found this challenge to be a real opportunity for growth as a creative person and as an artist. Each day, I get a prompt to interpret. The prompt is always a single word. For example, “yellow.” I wondered what I could draw if I had a black marker in a yellow world. Sort of like Harold and his purple crayon. And I came up with this. A city street scene with different kinds of buildings and even a patio for customers who like to sit outside.
And then, there were the characters. Bears, a mouse, the sun, a toy, and me. For me, creating characters motivated me to practice more and more because I need story and not just images. So I think that practice and story were the biggest part of my recent growth as an artist. I hope that helps, Viv.
Here is the second question, asked by Martha: “Was there something that sparked your interest to get started in painting? I love all your drawings, especially the bears!”
Quite honestly, it was someone, rather than something. Two someones, to be exact. The first was my mother. She kept nagging me, saying, “You need to take an art class.” I let her know that I was totally lacking in talent and that an art class wasn’t a plan. My mother, however, was relentless. She didn’t take “no” for an answer. “You need to take an art class,” said my mother, sounding suspiciously like a broken record. Finally, she wore me down. “Okay,” I said. “I will sign up for an art class.” So I did. It was a very fun art class that met once a week from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There was a lunch break, and we would all go eat in a cafeteria with the people who worked in the building, which was then a government building. Prior to being a government building, it was a school. It is no longer a government building. In fact, there is a theater in it, where I saw my friend Thomas perform in “A Chorus Line.” But I digress. However, not too much.
Thomas’ mother, Ellen, was the second someone. Her approach was a little different than my mom’s. She invited me to come visit her one day. When I arrived, she directed me to the dining room and offered me a seat. She then placed a vase of cosmos on the table, as well as some paper and colored pencils. “Draw the flowers,” she commanded. I always wanted Ellen to be happy so I started drawing. When I was done, she let me know that I needed to spend much more time drawing.
And so, I did. Fast forward a few years. January 2015. I had given myself a challenge: to draw or paint a bear every day for a month. That was when I began to create stories to go with the bears, and I started creating the characters, which included Bearnacle Bear, the sea faring bear, who faced many obstacles, including some very terrible humans. Since that point, I have had a variety of ideas in my head for retelling my original bear story and for including more bears and telling more stories. And I am starting to think about compiling the bear stories (and the mouse stories) in a book format.
Thank you for asking, Martha! You never know what’s going to come next!!!