We had a run of some pretty severe thunderstorms in the New York City area recently, and as a father of three, that's terrifying. Nothing can be worse than three kids under the age of five locked up in a house for a day, especially when the thermometer is telling them they should be running in the sprinkler. In an attempt to occupy them for at least a little while, I pulled out an old set of watercolors and got them all watercolor painting. It went over way better than I expected, and lasted way longer than I thought it would (HOORAY PAINTING!). It also got me thinking about what first sparked my interest in making art.
|Playing with my first art materials led me to dreams of
being a comic book artist, which led me to discover
illustration, which led me to discover fine art.
I was six years old, and my aunt gave me an art kit for Christmas. It was in a giant black box that looked like a briefcase and it was full of generic-brand art materials: markers, colored pencils, watercolors, charcoal, and even pastels, but no crayons. That was big for me. To this point, they were my main mode of art-making. For some reason, it made them seem more serious. I couldn't even bring myself to take anything out of the kit at first. I just stared for a little while. When I finally started drawing by putting pencil (and marker, and charcoal, and pastel…) to the drawing pad my aunt had also given me, I was hooked. Playing with those materials led me to dreams of being a comic book artist, which led me to discover illustration, which led me to discover fine art. That path has served me well. I'm far from calling myself an artist, but I've been an art magazine editor for nearly a decade (and counting) and that's not too shabby.
Who knows if this past rainy Saturday afternoon will be that moment for one of my kids. Maybe they'll lump it in with any other day when we all spent time coloring, which would be fine. Who doesn't love coloring? But maybe, that instance will rise above all the others and be marked as the moment they started to really love art. And wouldn't that be pretty great?
What was your first art experience? Leave a comment and let me know.
Brian Riley is the managing editor of American Artist magazine.