Drawrings from High School
I don’t think of myself as a particularly great artist. I can draw most things I see with a certain degree of skill (except cars—I can never seem to draw cars very well), but I’m not the sort who can draw just anything that comes to the imagination. I envy people like that. That isn’t to say that I can’t use other images and modify them to look how I want—I do it all the time—but I look at a lot of the slickly drawn, original images on art blogs and Deviant Art and webcomics, and feel mediocre in comparison.
For my 30th birthday, my mom put together a scrapbook for me, full of pictures, certificates, and other paraphernalia that she’s kept all these years. One thing she made sure to include was samples of my art, mostly from my drawing classes in high school, but also featured a few more recent ones as well as a marker drawing of a tractor from 1st or 2nd grade. (Apparently, John Deere green wasn’t a standard color in marker sets.) It’s been interesting to see how my interests at that time reflected my subject matter for my sketch work. In elementary school, I was into video games and remember drawing a lot of Mario Brothers stuff. I even remember designing Mario levels on long sheets of paper and having cutouts I drew of the Mario characters dodging cutout Goombas and Koopa Troopas. I also remember being into World War II airplanes for a while and drawing many of those during my free time. Unfortunately, very little of my artwork from elementary school still survives. It’d be interesting to look back at those and compare how they look to my later stuff.
I didn’t do a great deal of drawing in early high school. Not sure why, either. It wasn’t until I took a couple drawing courses my junior and senior years that I started to draw regularly again. I still have my high school sketchbook and peruse it from time to time. Apparently I was really into comic book heroes back then. Most of my comics sketches were from X-Men, but I also drew a couple Spider-Man drawings, among others. I don’t follow action comics as closely anymore—I even gave my comic books to one of my cousins years ago—but I do still think they’re interesting aesthetically. I think it’s the exaggerated physical features that draw me to them. I’m fairly certain it isn’t possible to be as muscle-bound as the male heroes nor as outrageously sexualized as the heroines. I’m not sure why, but I find these exaggerated images as compelling as they are hilarious.
At about this time, Wizards of the Coast’s Magic: the Gathering was also fairly popular at my high school, and so a number of my drawings for class were of the artwork from the cards. One of the things that always impressed me most about MTG is the artwork. I think that more than any single fantasy-based endeavor, Magic cards gave us more of a visual representation of the universe it portrayed. There were sneaky, sinister goblins like the one above. Black and White knights—both male and female. Wizards, sinister and benevolent. Elves, dwarves, orcs. Spells and artifacts that could change the course of the battle. Lions, tigers, and bears. Rotting zombies. Drakes and dragons of all sizes and colors. And of the thousands of individual cards made, each had it’s own painted image. These images inspired quite a few of the drawings in my high-school sketchbook.
It was also during high school that I first read Lord of the Rings. I’d read The Hobbit a few years previous, but didn’t even know about LotR until I was a freshman. Artistically, one of the more notable results was that I did a series of drawings of various comic book and other characters as elves. Mostly this amounted to me giving them pointy ears and medieval-ish clothing and weapons. The above drawing came originally from an Excalibur comic—I just really liked Rachel Summer’s pose from a particular page and wanted to use it for something of my own. As with most comic-book drawings, these were mostly cheese-cakey, and I’m glad I’ve outgrown that particular phase in my artistic interests. But that kind of experimentation taught me to use more (and better) embellishments when I draw something from life or from a picture.
Most of my life I’ve loved to draw. It relaxes me and allows me to explore my imagination in ways I might not get to otherwise. Like writing, drawing is a means of communicating and expressing myself to others. Following high school, I only took one drawing class, and so haven’t always had the opportunity to draw when I wanted to. In fact, there are several years since I graduated that I didn’t draw anything—when I didn’t have a single sketch dated from that year. During graduate school in particular, about the only drawings I did were for a zine I worked on with some of my classmates from my Medieval Romances class. While I don’t have a huge amount of time in my life to sit and sketch, it’s something I hope to continue to do in the future.
As a quick question to readers: should I start a separate art blog, on subordinate to this one? It’s an idea I’ve been toying with and I’m curious if it would get a decent-sized following at all. Let me know what all y’all think.