An intimate portrait of myself


Josh, age 3
graphite on paper

Last Tuesday, I made a remarkable move that will affect the rest of my art career.  At least I hope it will.  I found a master painter about an hour from where I live, in a small pottery/cermaics town called Yingge.  His name is A.W. Lin.  It reminds me of my old hometown of Lambertville, NJ.  Full of old world charm and arts in the air. 

I actually found this artist through a friend, she brought me to his gallery where he had lots of his own paintings hanging about.  It was more western-influenced with oils of landscapes and portraits.  He even remade the Mona Lisa, which is not easy by any means.  I thought I could learn some things technically-speaking, and I have been looking for an artist for a while to study with.  That was one of my goals coming to Taiwan.  And it helps that he was friendly and kind to me, along with his wife who could speak better English and translated some of our conversation.

So it turns out that not only his teaching rates were so reasonable, but that he could teach me privately on Tuesdays.  So last Tuesday I went in for my first lesson.  I brought along an old photo of myself, and some other photos of my dad and New Mexico.  I thought it would be great to start with drawing first, because that’s the foundation for everything in art.  My teacher showed me to divide a grid-system on the photo.  I actually went to a local 7-11 with his wife to enlarge the small photo to about an 8×10 size, which helps a lot so you don’t have to squint.  He also taught me to sharpen the pencils with a knife so they’ll last longs and can do more with it.  A regular pencil sharpener will break easier.  Plus sharpening it yourself feels pretty good, it’s almost a primal feeling.

So basically with the grid-system of creating a drawing, you divide it into squares with a ruler, about 2cm apart.  Then just fill in the squares.  This takes a lot of patience, but also the guesswork of where to place the lines, and to get the proportions right, so there’s no doubt where things should go.  I really thought that now I can draw more confidently based on that.  I finished about halfway before bringing it home to complete the rest on my own.  I already had the lines filled in by the time I was done in Mr. Lin’s studio and completed the eyes and nose with shading before going home.  I observed his techniques as he drew a bit over what I’ve done.  So the drawing you see above is about 90% what I’ve completed.  But without the teacher’s 10% input, I wouldn’t have the other 90% to complete it.  This is probably the most realistic drawing of myself.  I may turn it into a painting soon.  But what a first lesson it was!  I can’t wait to see what comes next.  This drawing gives me great hope for the future.

Joshua Lance, age 3