I’ve been an artist all my life. I started out drawing Garfield from the Sunday paper when I was a little kid and moved on to comic book style illustrations in middle school. I had some decent art teachers through elementary school and middle school but it wasn’t until high school that I really started taking art seriously. A huge reason for that is because I had one of the greatest art teachers not only in the state of Indiana but of all time. Seriously, an awesome, awesome art teacher. I don’t want to go in to too much detail about him because I have entire blog entry dedicated to the dude that’s coming out later this year, but his name is Jon Siau and he brought out the best in me.
It was 1993, my junior year in high school and Mr. Siau was urging me to pick my subject matter for the high school art show coming up in the spring. At that point in my life I had few major interests. I liked Metallica, basketball, some other things I can’t mention but overall, I was just a dumb kid that had never been out of Evansville, IN. Since Metallica wasn’t the most compelling artistic subject matter, I chose basketball. The day I made the decision to do a piece of sports art I found a fateful piece of trash. I was walking by one of those big Rubbermaid trash cans on wheels and something caught my eye. It was a wadded up photo copy of Calbert Cheaney dunking. I thought it was a friggin awesome photo! I took the copy out of the trash and flattened it as best as I could and asked Mr. Siau if it was okay to do for the show. Being a sports art professional himself, he was all for it.
In 1993 in the state of Indiana, there’s was no bigger star than Calbert Cheaney. The guy was a stud. He was breaking big ten scoring records and was the star of the IU basketball squad. I’ve been a lifelong IU fan (still am) and couldn’t wait to get started! I drew out the pic on some 24″x 36″ water color paper and after that, the project just went perfect!
In high school, you basically came in and worked on your project for 1 period a day for 45 minutes. For some reason (probably because we had an abundance of it) I chose to do a monochromatic water color in navy blue. Every single day, I opined over every single brush stroke. For 6 weeks, I worked meticulously on this painting. And then it was done.
When it was complete, I took a step back and was like, “damn, this turned out pretty good” and I typically hate my own stuff. So, Mr. Siau matted and framed it and off to the art shows it went. I got a lot of praise for it. It felt good…to be good at something outside of sports. I didn’t win the High School art show painting category but it did go on to win some things in some other, smaller shows.
I was happy, I didn’t really expect to ever win anything in art ever. These small wins (although I don’t think art should be judged) really gave me the confidence to continue in art.
After high school, some other kool things that happened to the painting. With his connections, Mr. Siau was able to get the painting to Calbert Cheaney and he signed it. How kool is that!! Another nice thing was my girlfriends parents (my future in laws) put it in a really nice frame for me as a high school graduation present.
Pretty awesome. The painting still hangs right next to my desk and right behind my children, if our house ever caught fire, it would be the first thing I rescue!