Sunday, March 23, 2014

Strip artistry

One of my most overarching ambitions growing up was to be a cartoonist. In my late teens, however, I lost confidence in my artistic abilities (which I've since gained back) and increasingly lost patience with the tedium of drawing. So I still draw, or digitally draw, occasionally, but only when I have solid ideas that aren't better conveyed through writing. When that happens, I remember why I enjoyed the art form in the first place.

I've been flooded with ideas lately, and just wrote some down for the intent of drawing very soon. Now that I have a table in my home office specifically for artwork, and all my art supplies to go along with it, I have no excuse not to finish them. Hold me to it.

One of the perils of being a kid who likes to draw — as I was back in the day — is that well-meaning people will stick a piece of paper in your face and say, "Draw something nice right now!" And when you couldn't, or the work was underwhelming, they'd be disappointed. And then you'd be disappointed, just for not feeling it.

Even when I was feeling it, I know I couldn't possibly have been as good as I remember. When I was about 4 or 5, I decided to draw Velma from Scooby-Doo. I remember it coming out looking exactly like her (and of course that's what my Pop said), but who knows how far off I was? I'd love to see it now.

Also, I patted myself in the back for drawing a perfect orange tabby in an anthropomorphic seated position in my kindergarten class — until years later, when I saw that exact drawing in The Real Mother Goose — the book I had with me that day. Who knows what I actually drew?

Fortunately, I drew on every book I owned, as well as some game boxes, school notes and even family photographs, so I know I was at least budding. Nowadays I doodle on our newspaper page proofs. I'm almost 20 percent better now.

In any case, don't be afraid to exercise your muse, no matter your grade of ability. Because the inspiration behind it ensures that it will turn out just fine.

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