Visual Arts

September 2015

In an effort to learn more about drawing, and art, I have enrolled at Montana State University-Billing to pursue a degree in Art. I am a few days into my first class, Artz 105 Visual Language - Drawing, and I really enjoy it. I'll be posting selected images from the class in my School Gallery link, on the left.


I have been drawing for as long as I can remember but taking it seriously is something I have done in spurts over my six decades.

During grammar and high school I was constantly sketching, usually cross-sections of ships, submarines, and buildings. I drew plans for all kinds of goofy inventions, sort of in the style of Rube Goldberg, and, of course, lots of cars.

I don't recall my pictures being of high quality, being more or less self-taught, but in my senior year of high school I had the opportunity to take an art class. The school had both a boys and girls school on the same campus but the classes were segregated until that final year. Art classes, previously "girls only," were now open to boys, however, there were more boys than open slots and I didn't make the cut since my grammar school transcripts showed a series of failures in art, indicating a "lack of talent." If I remember correctly, those grammar school teachers would show us something to draw and direct us to copy it. I didn't "see" the object the same way and would draw what I saw, failing the assignment. So much my my art education.

During my time in the army, I had lots of free time, especially at the missile site where I was a guard. It was easy to take pencil and paper along so I did lots of sketching to pass the time. Where all those drawings are now I haven't a clue. It was while I was working in the photofinishing business that a co-worker came over to look at some of my own photography and saw my drawings. She had an art degree and told me that what I was doing was great but needed better materials than plain bond paper and a No. 2 pencil. She introduced me to good drawing paper, a Berol 314 Draughting pencil, and a kneaded eraser. My work improved quite a bit after that.

In 1977 I made the decision to train as a mechanical drafter and found that I had a talent for it, loved it, and ended up working as a drafter for quite a few years before becoming a high school drafting teacher. Over the years I would get the urge to sketch and draw but it always competed with my other hobbies, interests, and passions. Retirement changed things and I now have the time to devote to drawing like I never did before.

I dug out my old copy of the Betty Edwards classic "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain," read it again, and worked on the exercises it assigns. Coincidentally, I had majored in Industrial Arts (Photography) at California State University Long Beach at the same time Dr. Edwards was teaching there. I knew of her but as a non-traditional students I didn't have much extra time for electives so I missed taking any of her classes. That said, I like her book and it has helped me tremendously in developing my "eye."

Materials: I usually draw on Strathmore 400 as I like the texture it adds to the drawing. I can no longer get the Berol 314 Draughting pencil but use a simialr one made by General Pencil. It's not quite as "creamy" but has a nice feel to it. I also use some of my drafting pencils with H and HB leads, wooden pencils that are 2H, 6B, and 9xxB. I still use a kneaded eraser and give my drawing a fixative spray when done.

I have no "artists statement" other than many/most of my drawings have been a merging of what I saw in my black and white photography and the drawing I did for years in mechanical drafting. I enjoys playing with selective contrast and having to ability to include, or exclude, elements and objects in the work, something that is more difficult in photography.