I’m Four Years Old

When you are as old as I am, birthdays aren’t a big deal beyond preferring them to the alternative.  But when I can say “I’m Four Years Old,” well that’s better, and I’m now a four-year-old sketcher.

I can’t really say what day it was that I read Danny Gregory’s Everyday Matters and bought into his notion that the value of art comes from the doing of it rather than the end product, but it was sometime in September of 2011.  At the time, I couldn’t draw anything.  I’d been told when I was a kid that I had no talent for art and I’d spent almost 60 years believing it.  Times change and now I don’t believe that “talent” has anything to do with it, though if persistence is a talent maybe there is truth in “you’re so talented” as I’ve been persistent if nothing else.

Anyways, back then I started drawing cubes… lots of cubes.  I figured that lots of things fit into cubes and so if I could draw cubes in any orientation, I’d have a good start on drawing pretty much anything.  And you know what, I think I was right.  Books told me I should also add spheres, cones and cylinders to the mix but otherwise, I started to build a foundation for drawing.  I got pretty myopic about it too, worrying only about the drawing, using paint like crayons and not giving it much thought.

Sadly, I don’t have any of those pages of cubes.  I was using photocopy paper and throwing everything away.  It wasn’t until I posted a couple simple sketches in a sketching group and mentioned my circular file approach to storage that someone said, “Hey, hang onto that stuff.  You’ll want to look back on it some day.”  And so I started my first sketchbook.

By this time I’d heard about urban sketching and that looked like a good idea to me – all except for that going out in public to sketch stuff.  That sounded really scary!

But I was determined.  I took a small 4×6 sketchbook, with horrible paper, and headed to a shopping center.  I’m an analytical type and I reasoned that if I sketched a manikin she wouldn’t get mad at me and I wouldn’t have to worry about her leaving.  I was right on both counts.


2ndLocationsketchIt was still scary, though and I held my sketchbook close to my chest, drawing as quickly as I could in the hope that nobody would see me.  Once again, the strategy worked and I finished the sketch, got up immediately, and walked away.  It was only in hindsight that I saw the reality.  Nobody cared what the heck I was doing.  Everyone just walked by, too busy in their own affairs to care about me and my manikin sketch.  My second ‘urban sketch’ was a post box and it didn’t get angry either.   But I got “bold” and soon I was sketching my coffee cup in the middle of McDonalds (grin).

By this time I was 1) having a great time sketching, or trying, anywhere I wanted.  It doesn’t take long before you figure out that nobody cares what you’re doing and the fears are unfounded.  My only limitations were, and still are, my ability to draw and paint.  But I wanted to draw buildings and so one day I bit the bullet and drew this one, my first location sketch of a building.  Since then I’ve done, literally, thousands of sketches, almost all of them done on location.  I’ve filled more than 40 sketchbooks.  I think I’m a little better at sketching than I was when I started but that doesn’t really matter.  I’m having fun and it’s become a part of my life.



11 thoughts on “I’m Four Years Old

  1. Glad to know we sort of share the same “birthday”! 🙂 Love seeing your early sketches and how far you’ve come.

    – Tina

  2. You inspire me so much! I started learning to draw and paint 2 years ago at age 68. I still work full-time so don’t have lots of time for art, but I keep on going. I’m still “scared” about sketching in public but am on the email list of a local sketching group and one of these days I’ll join them. Thank you ever so much for sharing your sketching passion!

    • Since you’ve got a group you can go with, Donna, do it sooner rather than alter. You’ll have so much fun. You’ll quickly find that there’s nothing to be scared about and that sketchers are very welcoming and unconcerned about how good (or bad) you are at sketching. — Larry

  3. Happy birthday Mr. Larry,drawing in the public place is still very scary thing for me. Other important issue is talent, i think stucking at talent, keeps us far far away from our sketchbooks. Self expression is most important thing for me,

    • Have you done it, Cetin? What I said about my first experience is true. By my third experience I no longer worried about where I was when I was sketching. It’s one of those things that people worry about until they try it. — Larry

      • Not yet, but the problems have reduced, now i got two main problem; first the people that insistently want me to draw them, another problem is surrounded people when you sketching and blocking the object when watching you. Despite everything, walking on the street and finding somewhere then siting and drawing is not just a hobby, it is a cure i think, Living with a little watercolor set, little sketchbook and brush. Nowadays, individuals do not move their eyeballs from their smart devices, it is a good thing for us to watching, observing and drawing our environment.

  4. Happy Birthday Larry !
    It’s fun to look back isn’t it. I still have my sketchbooks from 1993, mainly because I put them away for 20 years !

    I didn’t quit I just took a vacation 🙂

    Here’s to 40 more sketchbooks…


    • Hi Alan,
      I suppose it is fun. I don’t do it much as when I’m done with a sketchbook it gets thrown on a shelf with the rest and I rarely look back. I figure I’m going to have to do this for another ten years before I figure it will be worth it to look at them 🙂 — Larry

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