”What Color is My Parachute” was a popular book helping the reader decide career goals. The book helped me explore my inner talents; my desire was to pursue a more viable career. The author asked what did you do for fun as a child? As a young person your pursuits are pure and uncluttered without worldly matters weighing you down.
I remembered drawing. My mother worked at a dry cleaners and that is where I spent most afternoons after school. It was boring to sit there and have nothing to do. There was a drugstore next door and I would wander up and down the aisles. Comic books were very popular for everyone. I would bring “Archie Comic Books” back to my mother’s workplace. My natural instinct was to draw the characters and it was satisfying. Drawing became a part of my life. This would be my choice of career to explore. Dancing school was a big part of my life for many years and truly loved it; but was that possible to pursue such a career at this age? I was in my early thirties. There are few regrets; but one of them is giving up dancing.
The book and my past experience in drawing drew (no pun intended) me to work in pencil, charcoal, and watercolor. (See my first watercolor above – probably from a magazine picture) I found myself enjoying and losing myself in it once again. The sketches of Archie and his gang paid off. Portraiture was my champion. I was making a living working as an administrative assistant for many years; however, the decision to start a career as a French Quarter artist in Jackson Square was now my goal. I bought a cart on wheels for storage and found a place to park it every night; got the license and I was good to go; at least I thought I was okay. There was animosity among the artist; and it was obvious that I was not welcome in their little community. They had me moving all around square; one day here the next day there. It was a “dog-eat-dog” world with too much competition. Such a move was not right for me at that time. Eventually, the world of business and money were present once more. Relying on art was not going to work but trying it was a big step in relating to the business of art.
However, the book was correct in realizing and utilizing your talents that you acquired as a child. You are closer to your true self in the younger years than you are as a stressed out adult struggling in the world of making a dollar. I never stopped drawing and painting after that. Particularly loved painting ballerinas and went to ballet classes and local productions; snapped many pictures and recreated through paint what I saw and loved. There is something about a subject that you love and convey it to canvas. I remember viewing a popular artist’s (and one of my teachers) rendition of ballet. He was a very accomplished; but, he could not convey the way a dancer’s legs are built and his translation of a dancer’s “turn-out” was amusing. (One of my very early charcoal drawings.)
After attending the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art, I realized that drawing the nude greatly improved my drawing skills. A class I thoroughly enjoyed attending. Friends and family have enjoyed my nudes throughout the years. The nude (left) is an ink wash and was drawn in a life drawing class at the academy. The human body is a magnificent study for the artist and revered throughout the history of art. The art of studying and drawing the human body will greatly assist in your drawing ability. One of my art teachers reminded us all the time that the human body was the hardest subject to draw; it is also the most fascinating.