I recently found a sketchbook I kept in sixth grade and instantly got depressed. It occurred to me that the greatest height of my artistic practice happened when I was eleven years old. I drew all the time, was respected by my peers and family for my work (even though I was relentlessly bullied in school), and was constantly pushing myself in new directions and new mediums.

At the time I was obsessed with horses. I drew entire herds of horses in pencil, pen, magic marker (pictured below), and any other art material I could find.

kid_horses

Nowadays I’ve moved on to other subject matter, but have found some surprising similarities between my art as a sixth grader and my work now.

For example, I had a penchant, even back then, for black and white—and drama. Maybe I was subjected to too many murder-mystery TV programs, thanks to my mom and two older sisters. Here’s a drawing of a “whodunit,” with a corpse splayed out, grim bystanders, and a grieving widow. (I was a macabre child.)

kid_whodunit

But compare the drawing to one that I did a decade and a half later, as a response to the War on Terror.

Atrocities V

Atrocities V, charcoal, 2001

Then there was my weird infatuation with fruit punch. There’s something about the color and flavor that I find so enticing—especially in its most synthetic forms. Here’s my version, using Pentel markers, at age 11.

kid_punch

And below is an allegorical still life I did about 27 years later, called Transelementation. This piece explored the uneasy dynamic between fine art and advertising and features a bottle of Hawaiian Punch. Disquietingly enough, the punch was the exact same color as the ultra-poisonous acrylic paint I was using (quinacridone red, for you paint geeks out there).

61-transelementation-2011

I tend toward abstraction as an artist, but will draw a still life just to maintain my rendering skills. Below, as a sixth grader, I was exploring how realistic I could make a crayon drawing look.

kid_canteloupe

And below I’m doing the same thing, with colored pencil—and with alcohol (which enhances everything)! This is part of a love note to Seattle that I made for the Sketchbook Project in 2010.

wine and drawing

The drawing tool I’ve used most often, simply because it’s easy to transport, is a pen. Below are yet more horses I drew at 11, this time using a pen and ancient bottle of ink I’d found rolling around in a drawer at home.

kid_ink horses

And here is a drawing I did nearly 30 years later, protesting the gentrification that is destroying my beloved neighborhood of Capitol Hill, Seattle.

Love letter to E Olive Way

And here I am as a 13-year-old, at my first “group show,” after a summer art class. I have seven pieces behind me, including a few figure drawings, two horses to my lower left, and a black-and-white drawing to the left of my head that resembles my work now.

kid_Corcoran show

And here’s my current work (with me in front of it), photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hirsch. This is from my show at Zeitgeist in downtown Seattle a few months ago.

JH pic of me

As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Even after almost three decades (ack)!

You can see more recent artwork of mine at: http://rhymeswithrace.com/

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