"The first step towards mastering painting is to master the pencil." – Unknown
In 2019, I stumbled upon a transformative piece of wisdom during CJ Hendry's Ted Talk, “What’s Your Plan?” For those unfamiliar, CJ Hendry is a prodigy in the realm of colored pencil realism, an artist whose talent and dedication are nothing short of inspiring. Her talk, which delved into her journey of becoming a professional artist, was a revelation to me. Hendry spoke of her rigorous practice routine, dedicating every waking hour, seven days a week, to perfecting her craft. This dedication to drawing resonated with me profoundly.
It was then that I experienced an epiphany: despite my regular painting, I realized I hadn’t truly mastered the art. It was time to delve deeper, to build a stronger foundation. The path to mastering painting, as it turns out, is intricately linked with mastering drawing. So, in a pivotal decision, I set aside my paints and embraced the pencil.
I began my journey with a simple "How to Draw" book, a treasure found in a half-priced bookstore. This book became my guide, my mentor. Over the next six months, I immersed myself in its lessons. From drawing basic shapes like thousands of circles to practicing lines, shading, cross-hatching - I tackled it all. I explored various subjects - still lifes, landscapes, faces, animals - diligently following the book’s plan, teaching myself the art of drawing.
Initially, as you might guess, my attempts were far from perfect.
But it was in this space, away from the familiar and comfortable, that the magic started to unfold before my eyes. Eventually, I’d take a step back from what I just drew and thought, “did I just do that? How did I do that?” The skills I was developing were to me, literally magic, because there is no way I could do that. This experience, this journey, it was life changing. It made me look at the world in a new way. As it turns out, the motivational poster in our 5th grade classroom was right. “Dreams don’t work unless you do.”