For years I struggled with my art. I saw so many people that I thought were better artists than me. I wanted to draw like so and so, or paint like someone else. Try as I might, I could never rise to their ability. A few years after graduating from college, I started my MA in Illustration at Syracuse University. Here I was able to study under some great illustrators like Murray Tinkelman (1933-2016), C.F. Payne, and Bunny Carter. I learned so much there, but the work I produced was not good.
Around 7 years later, I applied for the MFA program at The University of Hartford, Hartford Art School. I was again able to study under the direction of Murray. One day while working, He came by my desk, looked at my work, and said “Barclay, what happened? The work you were doing at Syracuse was horrible. This stuff is good!”
I responded that I had been reflecting on the work I do in my sketchbook and realized that this was what and how I enjoyed drawing.
He responded “Well keep it up!”
I had been keeping a sketch book and drawing in it regularly since I graduated from high school. I drew what I wanted to draw in it and how I felt like drawing. But for whatever reason, until that point at Hartford, I didn’t look at what was in my sketchbook as anything of value. I thought everyone expected me to be like other artists – to draw their way. Kimon Nicolades in his book, The Natural Way to Draw said “There is only one right way to draw and that is a perfectly natural way.” I had found my natural way to draw.
Drawing daily, drawing without pressure from the outside world, and drawing free of criticism and judgement can help you discover your own artistic voice and help you realize your own right way to draw and create art.
I am still influenced by other’s work. I still strive to be better, but now I learn from other artists and apply it to the right way to draw – my way to draw. I have years of sketchbooks and a few incredible instructors that have allowed me the freedom to recognize this.
For more information on the University of Hartford, Hartford Art school's limited residency Illustration MFA you can visit here.
You can also see Murray Tinkelman, and C.F. Payne illustrations.