Since early childhood, I have loved to draw. Retreating into a fantasy world, my pen depicted great imaginary battles. Depending on which era was attracting my attention or being studied, I would tirelessly generate Roman legions, Civil War soldiers, World War fighters, all vying for victory on a flat paper battlefield. Thousands of tiny figures, along with horses, chariots, planes and armored vehicles, marched heroically across the pages.
Following this phase of miniature warfare was a period of fascination with mountains and jungles alive with wild animals, along with volcanic landscapes populated by prehistoric creatures and ferocious dinosaurs. Sailing ships- Viking longboats, Roman galleys, 19th-century clipper ships and whaling vessels seeking their leviathon prey - perilously roamed the high seas upon my desktop.
Feeling hemmed-in by standard paper dimensions, I unfurled a roll of ordinary shelf paper. Although one side was a glossy yellow unusable for drawing on, the other was perfect for pen and ink.
Thus a mighty migratory journey began, an odyssey of countless horses and soldiers, settlers and covered wagons, locomotives and rails, courageously crossing forests, mountains and oceans through friendly and hostile tribes. At one point even the seemingly endless roll of paper reached an end, at which point I transitioned to painting on my bedroom and stairway walls.
Ensuing years focused more on music and guitar playing. The drawing of tiny people held less and less interest. For several years I no longer expressed through this medium, until one quiet afternoon I sat down before a large sheet of paper.
A drawn circle was the only element on the page. Within this circle, I clearly beheld an old town, surrounded by nature. (I believe a prolonged grape-juice fast contributed to this vision). I only needed to bring to life what I saw in my mind’s eye.
Using a new set of pens of various point sizes, I began to draw what I envisioned, allowing the larger point sizes to outline trees and foliage in the foreground, while the smallest sizes articulated details of the buildings, streets and walls of the ancient town. From an overview perspective, the relationship between nature and civilization assumed a yin-yang symbol.
Entitled ‘Renaissance Tapestry’, this single piece of art re-ignited my passion for drawing. I would henceforth spend a multitude of hours creating texture and shading using only dots, mimicking the look of an engraving with my pens.
A series of circle drawings of natural landscapes, birds and animals unfolded. Eventually desiring to share the images, I printed and marketed a collection of greeting cards and posters called GraceNotes. A few of these original ‘GraceNote’ images are included here. Some were also used to illustrate a color-story book, Windows of Nature. An industrialist commissioned a detailed picture of his steel factory in Oakland, California. Requests for book illustrations followed.
While travelling on music tours, I found myself sometimes staying in resorts. As a way of extending my stay, at times I would offer to draw scenes of the surroundings in exchange for lodging at the resort. Two of these images, from a beachfront resort in Koh Samui, Thailand, is pictured. Years later, I created a further series of ink illustrations featuring animals.
Though somewhat primitive in approach, having never studied at a traditional art school, drawing pictures in this way has been a joyful and contemplative path of expression, always following my heart in my experience of art.
Ask yourself what talents may lurk unexpressed in you. Even if you gave them up long ago, feeling you weren’t good enough or would never become great - the important question is, did these talents bring you joy? Why miss the opportunity to express your feelings the way you, and you alone, are able to express them?
Relax your inner critic for a moment. Beyond the comfort zone of your familiar world, enjoy the experience of ‘beginners mind’. Take a courageous step into the unknown and see what happens- you might surprise yourself.