Early Drawing

Erik ReeL drawing
Drawing of Shostikovich, by Erik ReeL at age 14, pencil on paper, 1966

When I was a kid, my one great refuge was the  public library. In those days it had two floors, the first floor was for kids, the second for adults.

I tried desperately to get check-out rights to the adult section when I was in elementary school, but to no avail:  the librarians reneged on every agreement [like reading all the books on a given topic in the young adults section and I’d get access, which I did, but still no access …].

This taught me very early on  one very important  non-intended consequence: that for a lot of adults, including, and especially those in power, their word meant nothing and that  they were not to be trusted.

Finally I turned 12 and could get a full library card. One thing I had not anticipated is that the adult section had a great music section containing Classical LPS, and even more difficult to get otherwise in my neighborhood, a full range of jazz LPs: all of Miles Davis, even Ornette Coleman.  I was in heaven and pretty much  checking out LPs at my max quota on an ongoing basis.

One of the things a lot of these LPs had were photos of the musicians, composers, and conductors on their back covers and sleeve inserts. So I started drawing from these LPs. My primary tools were a black pencil, a pink pearl eraser, and paper, sometimes I used colored crayola crayon. From about 5th grade to 7th grade I  developed a certain naturalistic  approach to drawing that culminated in  the drawing style you see here in an example from the summer before I entered 8th grade. I was 14.

I’ll post a couple of drawings from the next summer in my next post.  Without the intrusion of school, summers allowed me much more time to draw, so most of my drawing during these years was done during the summer.  Ah, the life-long battle to obtain time and space to create my own work.  I do not remember a time or age I did not feel that all else was an imposition and a hindrance to what I felt I was supposed to be doing.