Nothing beats childhood for having free time. Even now, as an artist in my 30’s selling art professionally, I think my most productive time was during middle school. My middle school art teacher was the one who taught me most of the skills I have, and went beyond nurturing an appreciation for art. I’ve loved drawing and creative hobbies since I was really little, but she taught me technique and discipline. What sticks with me most from those classes is her instruction to draw what I can observe, not what I think I know.
I can still remember the art room so vividly that it seems I must have been there recently, despite not seeing it in about 15 years. The room had a combination of paint and construction paper smells, and I recall the way the squared tables and stools felt to touch them and discover some blob of glue. It was such a happy place to be that it didn’t feel like school at all, it felt more like a break room. A place to be authentic.
One of the earliest drawings that I’ve still saved is a sketch of my mother’s hand holding a mug. She patiently held her hand still for me while I took a loooong time drawing it. Quick sketches have never been my thing. I have been greatly interested in drawing hands and cups ever since – obviously: Tea with Peter Rabbit and Cupful of Bunnies. Most of my best work from middle and high school was given away to non-profit organizations for their silent auction events, or to friends. I never even photographed the pieces, unfortunately. Of course, I kept the awkward incomplete sketches of negative space, various household objects, and all the portraits that didn’t turn out very well. As an adult, I’m proud that I was so generous, but rather wish it had been the other way ’round and that I had kept my best work!