When you’re in school for art, or in my case, Illustration, you are drawing, painting, photographing, sculpting, etc every. single. day. It’s awesome when you look at what other people have to do every day… but it’s creatively exhausting at the same time. Luckily, you get really good at all of those creative outlets because you’re having to work on them every week.

Once I got out of school I worked for an advertising agency (yay for getting a job so quickly)! BUT, because I was designing everyday, I was no longer being creative and drawing, painting, photographing, etc, and I literally forgot how to draw. A while ago (3ish years), I took a drawing course at night at Emory so that I could introduce myself to drawing again. I had felt so lost not drawing everyday and actually loosing the ability to draw terrified me. I identify myself as an artist and I felt like I couldn’t even begin a drawing. It was not what I wanted with my life.

Eventually I wound up getting a job at a napkin company out of desperation as a secretary… 2 weeks into that job I was doing design work again and not really being a secretary any longer. Approximately one to three months later, I was promoted to Art Director because I was solely doing design work again. At some point the company decided to design “everyday” napkins and I had come up with cool designs that I liked but then I had to draw them! Yikes! BUT, I started drawing again… and it got easier and easier… and I did less and less erasing and starting over. I really LOVED drawing again and I was getting good at it all over again!

The end of that story is when I noticed my personally designed napkins were some of the best selling products in the entire company, the company somehow decided they didn’t need me and let me go (HAH!) and I decided to take a leap and push myself into licensing. That was a little over 2.5 years ago!

Now that I’m in licensing, I draw EVERY day!!! I absolutely love it. But I rarely get a chance to do some of that other stuff like photography, sculpture and **gasp** painting. Of course… I’ve kind of lost my touch on those too… but not as horribly as I had before. So when the opportunity was presented to do a commissioned painting, I hesitantly accepted. It was for one of my best friend’s and she was going to give it to her husband for his birthday… Pressure from the get-go to make it look great. She wanted to give him a painting of something he cherished possibly more than her his Gibson guitar, but she didn’t just want a picture of a guitar because they had a couple of those already. She wanted something unique and different.

I’ve NEVER painted a guitar… or even attempted to draw one… how in the world do you make a guitar different and unique? After doing some looking around I figured out what I wanted to do… and I warned my friend that this would be a learning experience for me since I hadn’t painted in 4-5 years a while. So we snuck some pictures of his guitar, obviously I needed reference, and I composed the image I wanted to paint.

Then I decided to go big, I bought the 30×40 canvas and started out by painting it black. Have you ever attempted to do a drawing on a completely white sheet of paper? It’s nearly impossible. Where do you start??? A trick, shade the paper with your pencil or, in my case, paint the canvas black. It’s MUCH easier to find a place to start. Trust me, it works. Anyhow, I began by putting grid lines on the canvas and the printed picture of the guitar which helped me estimate exactly where everything went on the canvas.

And off I went… slowly starting to paint here and there until shapes started to form… I’m not ashamed to say, I started over one or two times in certain areas. I’ve included some in progress shots of the painting that I sent to my friend so she knew what was happening.

It was right after this photo, that I was on the verge of giving up because I was struggling on the “Gibson” letters and I’d hit a wall on how to do this… and luckily I painted over them, and started over.

And here’s the final image…. It’s safe to say he loved the painting even though I was terrified nervous because it was my first painting in years. After this I was creatively exhausted… it may be a while til’ I do another painting, but I’m glad I did it. I impressed myself!

Happy Birthday man! I hope you enjoy this forever and ever!!!