How I Started

Y'all, I can't remember if I've talked about how I stumbled into art before. I never really knew I could draw or paint well until I took art as a blow-off class my senior year of high school. I had senioritis hardcore an the only class I really needed was English, so I filled the rest of my schedule with fun/interesting stuff that included art, debate and AP physics because I am truly a nerd. Yes, I willingly took AP physics when I didn't need another science credit. I know, nerd alert.

As a kid, I was definitely creative and weird and did normal kid crafty stuff, but not a whole lot of drawing and painting. My senior year, we had this assignment where we had to draw a pictures of ourselves. Y'all, I'd never drawn a portrait before, but whatever because I got to spend 45 minutes each day doodling and messing around with art supplies, so sure I'd try it. Our teacher took everyone's pictures, and true to my natural self, I wanted mine to be more creative than just me standing in front of some lockers. So I put all of my hair in front of my face and wooooshhed it to the side, sort of like those super models in the ocean who woosh their wet hair up and back out of the water? Yep, that, except with dry hair and in a high school hallway fully clothed and a wee lass of 17 wooshing sideways like I'm swiftly and violently saying no to drugs. I asked my teacher to take the picture when I flipped up so my hair would have a cool all-over-the-place effect. Here's the photo:

Yeah, it's not crisp. We weren't spoiled with pixels in the early aughts like we are now.
Back in my day, pictures were blurry and we were HAPPY ABOUT IT.

So from that, we were to draw a pencil drawing of ourselves. Again, never having done this before and a general YOLOOOOO attitude, I jumped in and did the thing, figuring whatever as long as I try I'll get an A. This was a beginner art class and half the kids in it were the stoners and skipped class every time. I'm fine. Thinking back, this is kind of a difficult project for a beginner art class, no? 

Here's what I did:

Okay, totally not the worst, right? 
I mean at least you can tell it's a person and hair movement is happening.

Sure, the whole thing could be blended better and it's not totally perf, but y'all, this was NOT BAD for the first time I'd ever drawn a portrait of a real person. My teacher hung it in the display case in the hallway at school and I was both mortified (because omg people are gonna see it) and proud (because hey, positive reinforcement works).

And this was also the moment that changed the course of my life.

At this point, I had already been accepted to and determined a major for college, and I changed everything to become an art/design major. I mean, I'm like an artist now. So like, let's like get school for that. I refined my technique a lot in my first year of college (read: I learned some technique) and switched to doing portraits in charcoal as opposed to pencil. I liked that it was both bolder and more forgiving than pencil. I did several portraits of famous people and friends until they were like, okay weirdo, stop drawing me/my children. 

Quick sketch. 
I went through a retro rat pack phase in college.
It's not weird.
Okay, it's a little weird. I like that style of music, okay.

Finished piece, although it was one of my first portraits in college and looking at it now it needs more.
I was v. proud at the time, though.

Quick sketch - never totally finished this one.

This is my dog, #bearthepom, and I sketched this when I first got him around 2006-2007ish. It's legit hanging in my living room now and I'll never take it down because he is SO CUTE Y'ALL.

I was SO EXCITED when I received my first commission, which I actually did for free because I was just so excited that people liked my art/that I was good at something. Thinking back, that's a little sad. Ah, well. Anyway.

Finished piece

Sketch right after my son was born based on a newborn photo sesh.

A year into majoring in design, I switched back to a more business-y major because according to adults at school, "art is a hobby" and "how will you make a living" and "you're not the best in the class" and "you should consider other options" and "you're not a designer" etc. etc. etc. Fast forward and now I'm a graphic designer, making a living as an artist. Ha!

Fast forward a bit and I got bored of black and white pictures and took a long hiatus from drawing portraits to focus more on drawing with colors (not people though) and painting, which honestly deserves its own post. Then I took a hiatus from art all together, which was weird and foreign. I just got too busy with life and wrapped up in other things to have any hobbies that were my own. Life gets weird, then it gets better. Having gone through it, it's a buncha bullshit and I'd like to happily say that as part of my life re-prioritization, arts and crafts are back in on a regular basis. As it should be. Recently I picked up my colored pencils again to doodle another portrait out of the blue about a month ago. 

Why yes, that is my boyfriend, Han Solo, looking very melancholy. This is the first time I have used any color at all to draw a portrait, much less non-traditional color schemes. It was new territory, but I like to live on the edge. To be honest, I like this new style direction a lot and will continue drawing people, places and things this way. Color is everythaaaaaaang.

Last weekend I did a Hulk Smash doodle based on a picture I have of my son when he was 2 years old dressing up as Hulk. It wasn't meant to be a portrait of him specifically, I just liked the idea of doing a green hulked out child's face with what was clearly a costume on.

These two colorful pictures still need backgrounds, or I may just leave them in my sketchbook as practice pieces. Not sure yet. So the moral of the story is - I don't have a formal education or a degree in art or graphic design, yet I'm still doing them for a living and making real actual doll hairs. If there is a thing you love, teach yourself, get your mind right about it, get over it when people tell you you're not good enough, figure out how to make a living with it and GO ON WITCHO BAD SELF. What's the point in having a career in something you don't love? 

Side note: I'm v. interested in illustrating a children's book if you have any leads. 

Thanks friends, until next time!

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  1. I actually want to try writing a children's book next but know that illustrating is not in my wheelhouse at all. I'm working on ideas atm.

    -Heidi Volfson

    1. Awesome! Let me know if/when you need illustrations!


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