to the Introduction
Before I begin this introduction I
want to learn a little about you. And as I learn
about you, you will very likely learn something
about yourself as well. This knowledge may make
you feel good about yourself and anxious to
proceed; or it may cause you to become
discouraged and quit the idea of being an artist
altogether. But whatever may be the outcome of
this query, it is best you know ahead of time
what your ambitions and your roadblocks to
And always keep in mind:
whatever you read here (or anywhere else as far
as that goes), is nothing but one person's
opinion. The fact that you read it here means
nothing. Nor does it matter if information or
advise comes from the most educated and respected
person in their field - it is just one opinion,
and not the most important opinion by any means.
There is only one opinion that
matters. There is only one opinion that is going
to push you on to success, or sidetrack you into
That opinion, of course, is
If you agree with someone, and
it causes you grief, it is not the words that
were said to you that caused you your problem; it
was the words you said to yourself
that is at fault.
And the words you say to
yourself can be changed. But the words others
say cannot be changed. But they can
be proven wrong!
Consider Edison and his light
bulb, or the Wright Brothers and their airoplane,
and the countless others who refused to listen to
the "experts" who tried to stop them
from their mission.
So that is test #1. Did you
pass it? Or did you even understand what the test
I presented consisted of?
The question I posed to you is:
are you one who is easily discouraged by others
and by failure? Or are you one who looks toward
his or her own goal, seeing failures and
criticisms as merely stepping stones to success?
Test #2. Take a close look
at your book case. Count the number of art books
you have purchased with the intent of learning
art. Include in this count the books you no
longer have, but had at one time acquired. Also
include those books you have checked out of the
library or that you have procured in some other
Now, of those books, how many
of them have you studied and followed their
instruction? How many of those books do you
consider as inadequate or out 'n out failures
because they were unable to teach you how to draw
There are two types of
people, with a vast array of others dwelling in
the grey zone between the two extremes. The first
of these people are those who (we're considering
art here, but it could be any subject)
take up their pencil and follow the instructions
given them to the letter. These people make an
exerted effort to glean every bit of knowledge
the teacher (or book) has presented to them.
Then, after they have learned all they can from
that book or teacher, they move on to another,
again gleaning every particle of information
The chances are strong that you
are not one of these just described. If
you were one of these you would not be looking on
the web for some cheap, simple way to ease into
the field of art.
Take heart. I'm not
one of these people either. Yet I've learned to
draw. The person I just described is one of the
very few go-getters who charge to the front of
the pack and stay there. But unless you are
trying to become a first-rate artist making the
big bucks, the front of the pack is not a very
comfortable place to be.
The second type of person
is one who is ever seeking the "magic
pill" that will give them what they want
without their having to do anything for
it. They search for a diet that will allow them
to eat everything they want and still look like
Audrey Hepburn. (I'm showing my age, but I think
even younger people are familiar with Audrey.)
This person also looks for the exercise machine
that will tone their body while they rest
comfortably on the sofa eating potato chips and
This person also has a case
full of books on the subject they most desire to
learn, and all those books have proven themselves
to be "failures" because they didn't
teach that person to be what they wanted to
Have you recognized
yourself in either one of the afore mentioned
groups? Or perhaps you lie somewhere in between,
closer to one end in some subjects, and closer to
the other end in other subjects?
Let me tell you about me.
I have a ton of books, on a
multitude of subjects. None of these many books
has taught me much at all. This fact means
little, because neither did any of my teachers at
school teach me anything. They may have been
great teachers, just as these books may be great
instructional books, but they didn't teach me
Why didn't any of
these teachers and books teach me anything?
Because of only one thing that was lacking.
I didn't study.
All my books are nothing but
dust collectors if they are not read and studied.
I could spend a fortune for lessons and
schooling, but if I don't study what I am taught,
I am just throwing money down the drain.
Good study of a poorly
executed book or class, is far more productive
than poor study of a great class or book.
So, having bent your ear
these past few minutes, what is it I am wanting
to tell you?
If you are one of those people
who delve into their studies in order to learn
all they can (or anywhere near being such a
person) there is a good chance I will be able to
teach you a thing or two.
Of course what you learn here
is not something you could not just as well have
learned elsewhere, and possibly even better so,
but you will learn something.
However, if you are one of
those people who has a collection of
"failed" books, you will find that I am
just as much a failure as those books are.
I don't have the "magic
pill." All I have is a lot of suggestions
and advise you will not want to hear. From this
web site you will be instructed to: "Work!
Work! Work!" And you will be told to
"Practice! Practice! Practice!"
If you practice your art (or
anything else) you will learn; and you will learn
quickly. If you do not practice, then
you will not learn, and you will just be
wasting you time and energy reading what I have
Once upon a time, in one of my
art classes (where I taught), one of my students
was having a problem with the shoulder muscles on
his drawing. He had spent over two hours working
on that drawing, and needed help.
I never draw on a student's
paper. I want the work to be totally their own.
Instead I drew a sketch alongside his drawing,
and on my sketch I pointed out what he was doing
What took the student over two
hours took me no longer than a minute and a half.
This, as could be expected, frustrated the
student. "It's easy for you,"
"Don't rob me of my
efforts," I replied. "Where you might
draw one or two drawing a week, I draw between 50
and a 100. It's practice that makes it
easy, not any gift."
And this is what I say to
you. If you want to piddle along making a sketch
or a drawing now and again, there is nothing
wrong with that. It's your time and your intent.
But if you want to learn 10 or a 100 times
faster, then do 10 to 100 times more drawing (or
whatever) then what you are now doing.
Now for the:
I have found that most people
are like myself: once we have taken a step
forward, whether it be a fair step or a foul, we
do not retrace our steps or reappraise them.
Therefore, instead of learning from our mistakes
so we may improve our future steps and direction,
we make excuses for and justify our past errors
and our present position.
To us, the artist, that means
what we failed to learn of the basic skills, or
we learned improperly or incompletely, will
remain improper and incomplete for the rest of
An artist without the basic
skill of art is not an artist, any more than a
person splashing in a pool who has not learned to
swim is a swimmer.
When I set out to learn to draw
and paint, at the age of 40, I discovered there
was a great deal to learn that I was unwilling to
apply myself to. So, like so many others of the
older generation, I set out to learn some
shortcuts that would enable me to produce a
finished product I could show off, and maybe even
sell. I found several such devices, and utilized
a few. And as might be expected, some of the
pictures I drew and painted turned out quite
I was an artist. I was even
turning a few heads with my art. I was even
selling a few.
But I was not an
artist. and I knew I wasn't an artist, regardless
of the number of people who confirmed that I was
When I was young color
photography was unknown, or at least very
expensive and rare. But color was something most
people wanted. To compensate for the lack of a
color camera, artists were found to add color to
the photographs. Many of these photos so enhanced
were almost laughable to behold. But there were
others that were very well done.
But regardless of the quality
of work performed on the photo, is was still just
a retouched photo: it was not art.
While I, as an
"artist" was able to produce some
pretty fair pieces of art, they were in actuality
just copies of something that already existed.
Even if it was a portrait of someone sitting
before me, I felt as if was doing nothing more
than capturing what nature had produced -- I was
Most people would be thrilled
to have the ability to capture nature with any
skill at all, and could care less that it was
merely a copy. To be freed the constrains of
tracing paper, gridded canvas and photos, and
rear image projectors would make them feel like
the real artist indeed.
And there is nothing wrong with
copying. Most, if not all, the great masters
copied. And I even now copy occasionally. I like
to work at capturing an image or a technique an
artist or photographer has done admirably.
There's nothing wrong with copying. Nothing
Being bound to copying, I
found, was another matter all together. When I
had to have something someone else created in
front of me before I could draw, I felt as if I
was cheating. But once I was free from that
restriction, I felt like an artist, a creator,
even though I was not truly creating the piece I
was currently duplicating.
How did I free myself from the
constraints of copying?
It was figures I was most
interested in drawing. Figures and faces. Unlike
a tree, or even a dog or a cat, figures must be
drawn quite accurately to be counted art. And how
do you learn to draw figures without looking at
Oddly enough, it was comic
books that provided the answer to my dilemma. I
noticed that many comic books were very well
drawn, and the figures were exceptionally
accurate. I wondered how these artists got people
to pose in such odd positions in order that the
pose be captured. The idea that someone could
draw so accurately from their head, their
imagination, was beyond me.
So I investigated. And I drew.
For the next two years I did little else but draw
and trace as many of the pictures as I could;
mostly comics. During that two years I drew over
10,000 drawings and sketches -- most I threw away
since they were merely practice and exploration
And I learned to draw. Not only
draw, but to create. I had learned to draw from
the inside-out. I not only could draw
the figures, but I knew them. I could see through
the flesh and knew right where the bones and the
muscles were, and what they were doing.
I could create. And I could
create a person, or an animal in just about any
and every position.
I had become an
"artist" in my own mind.
Certain people watched my
growth, and wanted me to give a seminar on art. I
hadn't considered such a thing as I was hardly
confident enough to just draw on my own.
But I gave the seminar -- 8
hours to a packed house. All I had to do was show
up with my pencil and paper (everything else,
including the advertising and the easels, etc was
provided), talk about something I enjoyed, and
walk away with $300.
There were several in the
seminar who wanted me to teach a class. I had
nothing whatever to present, but I accepted the
challenge. A month later I had the beginnings of
a class. Then each week thereafter I would work
frantically learning the subject of the next
week's lesson. I would read and study every book
I could lay my hands on, and make around 70-100
drawings that week. By the time I presented the
class, one would think I had known the subject
all my life I was so well rehearsed
For two years I taught the
class, until I had to abandon it to take care of
my ailing family. And surprisingly enough, four
of my original students were still with me at the
end of that two years.
My intent was to teach a class
for older people, already established in the
field of art who, as I, had missed the basics and
felt incomplete as an artist. However, I found
that there were hardly any such people who cared
enough about their art or their self-image to
take such a remedial class. They were content to
produce, and to be acclaimed an artist, that was
At the same time I found
several of the younger set who wished to learn
art, and were not afraid of the basics. Most of
these were young housewives, college students,
and high school students. However, there were
those parents who were desirous to appease their
children and were looking for a babysitting
situation. In order to eliminate this
possibility, I restricted the age to adults, and
charged what I considered an exorbitant fee,
which I discounted for older people and for
serious students, as well as my faithful
I no longer teach, being
retired, but I do love to make available what I
know. And I also enjoy showing off my work. This
Gallery affords me the opportunity to do both.
And I hope that somewhere out there someone will
be able to learn a few things and grow in their
skills because of what they have read here.
As a concluding remark, for
those of you who are serious about your work and
want to press your ability to the maximum; I
would s.t.r.o.n.g.l.y! recommend you copy the
"Considerations" page and study them faithfully. You will only
get out of these lessons, or any other endeavor
you undertake, what you put into it.
First things first.
Tumbleweed was established in order that
I might publish my short stories and
Bible studies. Recently I acquired more
web space and decided to also publish my
art and these art lessons.
Tumbleweed Gallery is not a store, nor is
it an art school. I am merely posting
what I have so that those interested in
art might perchance learn from them.
I do not accept e-mail. Nor will I
respond to e-mail. However, this said, if
you feel you have a question or a comment
that will benefit other artists and
students, feel free to write me. I will
not reply, but if I feel what you have
written warrants it, I will post your
letter on the Tumbleweed Question &
Answer page (click
non-profit, non-political, non-orthodox,
and almost non-existent.