As a self-employed individual, one probably shouldn’t complain about having too much work….right?

My other job as a tattoo artist is where my primary income stems from. And business is good. So why the sad face, Cody?

Because I want to draw. I want to paint. I want to practice. I want to study. And I just don’t have the time. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad the bills are getting paid. But lately I spend more time scheduling and corresponding than anything else. By the time the end of the week comes, I’m usually in a sour mood and I just want to be left alone by the entire world for a few days so I can recharge.

Today I was finally able to get in some drawing practice. I worked on gesture drawing. The technique of drawing gesture is to rather quickly attempt to capture the motion and rhythm of a pose. It’s not something that is supposed to be seen by others, it is merely an exercise. 25 years ago I used to do this type of drawing often when I was studying animation in college. I was introduced to it by my figure drawing instructor at CALARTS, Glenn Vilppu.

Glenn was amazing to watch. For me as a kid fresh out of high school who thought he was something special when it came to art, being surrounded by students from all over the world with amazing art skills was a humbling and exciting experience. I myself was always trying to figure out where I fit in on the “art” scale. Was I the worst? Was I the best? I was definitely somewhere in-between. Despite the sense of security that gave me, I think all of us students were in awe once we saw Glenn Vilppu lay a line on paper. I remember my first class with Glenn. He was demonstrating a concept to us, and he’d effortlessly run his sharpie across his large pad of paper in one quick pass. I could hear the quiet gasps mirroring my own thoughts about how perfect his line described the subtle contours of an arm that most of us would’ve spent minutes on. Glenn instantly had my attention and a place on my “I’m-not-worthy” list.

I will always remember one class in particular. We had a female model that day and I think we were getting ready to do some 2-minute poses. Just as we were getting ready to begin, Glenn said that instead of drawing what we see today, he wanted us to pretend like we were up on the ceiling looking down at the model. I immediately set to work drawing each pose as if I was up above looking down. Glenn was walking around the room studying our progress. He didn’t seem happy. I could hear him critiquing other students in an almost disappointed tone. Everyone in class was failing. I got more and more nervous as he got closer to me. I kept drawing. Despite all the failings I was hearing, I felt very comfortable with this exercise. It was fresh and fun. Glenn had come up behind me and was looking at my sketches. I heard him say, “Hey! Those are great!”

Looking back on it now, I think that may have been the pinnacle of my college career. I felt like royalty that day. Not only had I shined above my classmates for one brief moment, I had gotten a grand compliment from Glenn Vilppu.

By Cody Deegan

Cody Deegan is a life-long artist versed in drawing, painting, sculpting, and design. He studied filmmaking and character animation at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles as well as figurative oil painting at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle.

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