About Drawing

I drew this picture of a girl from Seventeen Magazine when I was 16. I was riding a chartered bus on a fieldtrip to the Art Institute of Chicago to see an exhibit of John Singer Sargent’s work. It was my Sophmore year in highschool and I had really taken an interest in Art. I had begun a drawing class at a local studio and was learning a lot. Mr. Wolfgang, my art teacher, made a huge deal about this trip. Not everyone went. We had to pay like $35.00 to go. It was my first trip to an art museum that I remember. The funny thing is, I barely remember it. What I do remember was drawing this picture, just because I was bored, in my sketchbook, on the bus on the way there. I also don’t recall that I normally carried a sketchbook with me, maybe I had it along this day under the suggestion of my teacher. Anyway, I remember how challenging it was to draw her hair. It was beautiful, curly, loose, romantic. I worked on it for a long time. (It was like a five or six hour trip). It was one of the first times I remember drawing something that I thought was really good. When I was finished it got passed around the bus and everyone thought it was great. Mr. Wolfgang said he couldn’t believe that I drew that on the bus. It was the first time I remember really being affirmed by my friends. Then we got to the museum, and I remember only the exhibit. It was so crowded, but I was amazed at the paintings I saw. John Singer Sargent is still one of my favorite artists. Maybe it’s because the trip was such a turning point in my life. My eyes were opened. I saw art as more than just making pretty pictures. I could create what I was compelled to create. I could draw for me. Not for an assignment or a grade. Not because a friend wanted me to copy a photo of Michael Jackson from an album cover. I could draw the things I noticed around me that captured my interest. I have been thinking lately about why I draw (or don’t draw…as is the case lately). People say to me all the time that I should illustrate children’s books. I should sell my work (if I made work to sell), and they ask me why I am just an art teacher. Most of the time I just thank them for their kind words and their confidence in me…lately I have been responding that maybe when my kids are older and I have more time to myself I may pursue illustrating. I don’t know. There is a huge part of me that wants things to stay the way they are. I truly love my job. I love teaching my students everything I know about art. I love what they teach me. Yeah it get’s tiring and stale once in a while, but I still love doing it. I don’t know if I could quit teaching. I know I could make money with my art, but I also know it takes a lot of work. Not that I don’t like working at things, I am just not there right now. I love drawing just to draw. To document my experiences each day. I love that I can look back through my journals and have a visual diary of places I have been, events, and my children. For me, right now, this is what I do. So, am I wasting my talent? It seems that people tend to think that about me. They say I could be doing so much more. But working full time as an art teacher, being a wife, a mother to 3 kids (under 5), teaching drawing classes at the local museum and being involved in my church keeps me so busy that I don’t have the time to even think about trying to do art to make money. Not only that, but making art for me…making it personal…has been so liberating for me, creatively, that I am not sure if I HAD to do art that it would flow out of me the way it does in my journal. How do you deal with this? Do people who illustrate for a living feel this struggle?

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