It takes many long hours to finish one of my drawings. I’ve learned to pace myself and take five-minute breaks every hour or so, and one-hour breaks every four hours or so. Recently during one of the long breaks I discovered that reruns of Starsky & Hutch are now on cable TV. Not to date myself or anything, but high school Denise was a big fan of Starsky & Hutch. It didn’t win any Emmy awards and the writing wasn’t great, but it’s fun to remember why I had such a crush on David Soul, and my best friend was similarly smitten with Paul Michael Glaser. So I set the TiVo to record them to watch during my breaks.
After a couple of episodes I remembered that some of the very first graphite portraits I ever drew were of Starsky & Hutch. As a poor kid I couldn’t afford posters, but I was getting pretty good at drawing, so I bought a couple of magazines with especially good photos of them and drew them bigger to hang in my room. Copyright wasn’t an issue because they weren’t for sale and there was no internet. In working from these magazine photos, I had a great excuse to stare at every little detail of their faces, and was very motivated to improve my drawing skills so I could reproduce them. Schoolmates mocked me for having a magazine picture of them in my locker, so I never showed these portraits at school, to avoid even more ridicule.
But the last one I did was different. It was 16″x20″, Starsky in a white suit (remember this was the 70s), sitting on a park bench. It turned out so well my art teacher asked to show it in the school display case for a couple of weeks, and commissions for portraits of local folks started happening! I even included it in my portfolio for admission to art school. A couple of years later in college, someone asked about buying it to give to his sister for her birthday. I was surprised that anyone remembered it, and I didn’t really want to sell it, so I suggested the ridiculous price of $50. But that wasn’t high enough, because he bought it, and I never saw it again. I bought two dresses with that $50 (again, remember this was the 70s!), and I still remember the dresses, but I’d rather still have that drawing in my archives.
So what does this have to do with artwork? Inspiration, motivation, and skill improvement. It worked for me. If you like something enough to want to spend hours with it, and you wish you could draw or paint well enough to do it justice, you have all the inspiration and motivation you need for improvement. Nobody else ever has to see your work, or know that you did it as a fangirl/boy, or think you’re silly, or fret about copyright. It’s all for you. If it makes your art skills better, it’s all good!