Do you remember when it began? When you realized that art was more than stick figures and jagged clouds scrawled with crayons? When it occurred to you that there was a spark of talent within that would let your innate creativity emerge in a meaningful way? Do you remember?
My moment didn't arrive until I was in my mid-forties. Here's the tale in brief:
"How did you get started drawing?"
It's the first thing I'm asked, and my answer is: "O. J. Simpson."
As a journalist for the past thirty-five years, I've covered a lot of big stories. One of the most sensational was the 1995 Simpson murder trial. My assignment for CBS Radio News (when I wasn't in the courtroom in Los Angeles) was to sit in a New York studio and anchor the network's gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial. With the lion's share of time taken up by testimony, I had long stretches with little to say. I began sketching the faces of the witnesses on paper napkins that had been left in the studio. When I finished one, I'd thumbtack it to the wall. After a while, I'd accumulated a small collection. And co-workers took note. Armed with their encouragement, I decided to give drawing a try in my off hours. My first effort was a small portrait of the great bluesman John Lee Hooker. Not bad, I said to myself, not bad at all. But for reasons that elude me, it didn't last. After only a few other drawings, I stopped.
And I didn't pick up the pencils and pad for thirteen years.
What prodded me to start again? My good friend Jim Davis loaned me John Daido Loori's The Zen of Creativity. It's a wonderful book, and it showed me the way back. That was in the spring of 2008, and I'm still at it.