Today, February 14 (Yes, Valentine’s Day), marks 10 years since I wandered into an art store for the first time in years and rekindled my love for drawing. 10 years!
See, in high school I fell in love with drawing portraits, and began developing my abilities through continuous projects. Most of them were just for fun, but it was a regular exercise to practice my craft.
I then went to college, majoring in Advertising / Design, because I knew I wanted to pursue art, but I didn’t know what to do with it. Like, I really had no clue. At the time, I also had a passion for a music site I’d created in high school, and I knew I wanted to do that full-time, too. So what the heck am I supposed to do with my life?!
I finished college in two-and-a-half years and got my Associates degree. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, and decided to just work for a local web company part-time and not waste more money on college if I didn’t know what I was meant to do with my time. At this point, I dreamed of taking my website full-time, and just kept working at the part-time job in the meantime. Art wasn’t something I thought about often anymore.
I got married, took that part-time job full-time, and spent my free time on my music website and hanging with friends. I did still draw from time to time, but I probably was averaging a drawing a year… not much more. In fact, when I did start one, I seldom got around to finishing it.
But on Monday, February 14, 2011, I was a restless 30-year-old with a 4-month-old son and I was working at home full-time on my music site. Again, art was not something I did much of. I had lunch that day at a hibachi place in a shopping center with my best guy buddy from high school. We talked about life, careers, and obviously my newfound parenthood (He and his wife, at the time, had yet to have a little one of their own). I remember that, although we had ordered lunch, we were charged dinner prices and we then realized we chose to have a guys’ hangout lunch on a major couples holiday… not a smart move. After lunch, we parted ways. He went back to work, and I wandered next door to Blick, an old art store I used to go to for supplies for college classes.
Y’know that awful feeling you get when you return to a place that you left some time ago and you realize you don’t belong there anymore? I remember going to high school as a teen, and the building felt like it was where I was supposed to be. But after graduation, I remember popping in to visit a friend or a teacher and getting this overwhelming feeling that I no longer belonged there. I no longer fit in there.
I felt that that day inside Blick… and it instantly broke my heart.
The art world is where I used to belong. Sure, I visually didn’t fit the artistic stereotype, but I was an artist. I lived and breathed art classes in college and hung out with fellow art class students most of the day. But who was I now? A 30-year-old stay-at-home new dad with 15 years experience in the Christian music industry. But I was definitely no longer an artist.
I loved the feeling of being in that store, and I missed it. I wanted to be a part of that world again.
I bought some art supplies and, I don’t remember if it was that day or some time shortly thereafter, but I decided that, if I ever wanted to grow as an artist, I needed to put time into practicing my instrument everyday. I remember going to a concert almost 2 years later and hearing a musician talk about another band and how they were so good at what they did because they practiced their instruments every day. Every single day. And I felt that. I knew if I devoted time – even if it was just 5 minutes – to it daily, it’d make a difference.
So, 10 years later. I’ve launched an Etsy store selling my work. I’ve drawn probably a couple hundred portraits since then. I’ve experimented in different mediums and pushed my comfort zone in the process. I have done commissions for people who wanted original drawings of personal photos or pop culture characters. I’ve had drawings of mine shared online by celebrities like Gal Gadot, Evangeline Lilly, Olga Kurylenko, Zoe Saldana, Melora Hardin, Josh Holloway and Damon Wayans. And I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the subjects of several of my drawings and getting them to sign them, like Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Cary Elwes, Billy Dee Williams, Evangeline Lilly, Ellie Kemper, Richard Dean Anderson, Ernie Hudson, and more. And even my love for drawing has naturally inspired my son to take up the pencil for himself. He even recently has told me that there are days where “all” he wants to do is draw. And I still have that feeling myself. Almost every single day, actually.
10 years. It’s exciting to think about it. I’ve only missed a day or two drawing since I made that commitment to draw daily. Some days I only got to scribble on a napkin. Other days, I spent 4, 5, 6, or more hours with pencils in my hands. I still love it. I know it’s a God-given calling, and I really hope I can keep it up and grow as an artist.
Below, I’ll share the first pencil portrait I completed after returning to drawing (July 2011), and a portrait I completed recently (January 2021). It’s definitely been a ride! Here’s to the next 10…