Artwork by Edward Norton
From words to pictures
After decades as a journalist in New York and a novelist, at age 78 two years ago I took up the art I began as a child.
I started in school and newspapers as a cartoonist but switched to words as a professional career path, becoming an investigative reporter and eventually an editor. After writing and publishing 18 novels [available on Amazon] in retirement, for a change of pace I returned to drawing and painting by taking courses at the local art center on Cape Cod. Soon I was selling paintings. But I recognized that I needed more instruction and support, as art, like writing, is a solo job requiring constant improvement.
The instructors I dealt with in art classes had to contend with students of varying skills. Some, I discovered to my dismay, could not draw. They thought they could just “paint” without the basic drawing skills that –while they can be taught –require endless practice. After two years I gave up the local classes because: a] there was no telling in advance who my fellow students would be; and b] their varying level of skill. I found that the professional teacher-artists had to spend time teaching basics and coaching students who had the desire, but did not come prepared to move up a notch or two in their skills. That for me was a problem as I had little patience waiting for others to understand the basics. My drawing became a daily exercise on my own, filling sketch books, and prompting me to focus on the watercolor medium, which my teachers warned, is most difficult — especially to develop a style. The teacher critiques of my work were the best part of the classes. But at the same time I searched for other art instruction avenues, where it would be up to me to move ahead. in books and on the web, particularly You Tube videos broadcast by artists all over the globe. These videos showed me that there are as many styles as artists. Almost all, however, insisted that the work began with basics, such as drawing, perspective, focus, though some favored what is called a “loose” style, where tone, color and emotion were more important than drawing and arrangement. The web, I decided, was the best tool for the artist since the Renaissance for the obvious reasons of clarity and convenience.
My interest in the Drawing Academy is that I want to become more fluid and confident in the watercolor medium. The Drawing Academy web site pushes me to sharpen my skills by its lessons and comments. The Academy course would keep me on an improvement track, without having to wait for other students. I would move at my pace. This year I have filled portfolio cases with drawings and paintings large and small. Some have been entered in gallery shows, some juried, where my work was not passed. I recognize that I have to up my game because I have been competing in an area [Cape Cod] known for its big league recognized professional artists. I hope to get to their class, but if I’m only able to boost my game, I’ll settle for that. I have nothing to prove, or need for make five-figure sales. Maturity is knowing when you have enough of a good life and making art is part of that. A vote for me is recognition that it’s never too late to pick up a pencil or brush.