When I was in college I was introduced to the drawing method of using white chalk on a toned paper and instantly fell in love with it. I had never seen this technique before and was intrigued by it. I wanted to find out exactly how a drawing like this was achieved, what amounts of what color charcoal to use, and ways to see the paper as midtones.
It wasn't until art college that I became familiar with artists I had never even heard of, I felt so naive! The ones whose drawings I feel inspired mine the most were John Singer Sargent, Albrecht Durer, Frederic Lord Leighton, and of course, Leonardo da Vinci.
The first time I drew a master copy I realized how much it would help my own art. I was able to see what the masters were trying to accomplish with each pencil stroke. In certain drawings I'd see pencil strokes wrap around figures the same way a mummy is wrapped, and then I'd see other drawings with small hatch marks in direction with the planes of the face or body. Soon I became fascinated by drawing the human figure.
But it wasn't until I took an anatomy class that I truly fell in love with drawing musculature. It became my primary focus to understand just what the muscles of the body do and what each one of their purposes were. The painstaking work involved in learning to draw this was tremendous and at times I felt so overwhelmed by it that I wanted to give up. Then I realized that the only way I could really understand and make my drawings better was to draw every day and practice.
Once I was out of college I was literally on my own with this art thing. The only way I felt I could increase my knowledge was to keep practicing, and so that I did. I began posting online because I wanted feedback from other people on a daily basis. I wanted to gather information in order to help me at what I do. I am amazed at how much it has helped me. A few years back someone posted a comment on my work and said, "It's Paul Cadmus reborn!". I actually had no idea who Paul Cadmus was at the time and so I decided to look him up. I was taken aback by the beauty of his drawings and also very surprised by the similarities that our work had since I had never seen his work before. I absolutely loved his pencil strokes and how they went every which way, but at the same time they worked so well together. I especially loved his foreshortened poses because I know how difficult they can be to draw. Seeing his drawings reminded me again of how important those single lines can be.
There are a few instructors in college that I feel had the most influence on my art. One being Douglas Malone, an anatomy teacher. Seeing him work helped me to see that taking your time on a drawing is key to improvement. Before you put the pencil on the paper, think about what that is going to accomplish. Another was Lee Ballard, he helped me to understand the importance of drawing as much as you can and how memory plays a big part in how you draw. He also told me to read as many books as I could because they are one of the best ways to take your time at learning. Some books I've read include "Anatomy for the Artist" by Jeno Barcsay, "Dynamic Anatomy" by Burne Hogarth, "Drawing the head and hands" by Andrew Loomis, and many more but I feel that I truly blossomed as an artist after I read "The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing" by Anthony Ryder a few years ago. He provides alot of information on drawing methods, ways to measure proportions, and laying down the contour of the figure down correctly.
So... with all of the knowledge I have gained so far I know I still have a long way to go before I feel confident in what I do, but I guess that is just the way an artist thinks.