I started seriously drawing when I was 13 years old. In the beginning, I was not happy with my work and progress was slow. When I entered high school, I took a couple of drawing classes, but I was not happy with the instruction. There was always a plan that the teacher had for us and there was little freedom. Even when I did get to draw what i wanted, there was no one to mentor me in the direction I wanted to go with photo-realism. I continued to draw here and there, doing portraits, mostly of women I thought were beautiful. My drawings usually took about 4 hours to complete during this time in my life. I didn't start spending a lot of time drawing until I was 19 years old.
When I went to college, I thought the drawing instruction would be better, so I took a life drawing class. It was a beginner course and I thought I might be one of the top students. I was wrong. I was the worst student in the class. It wasn’t that I really thought I was bad at drawing, I actually thought I was fairly good at it, but when it came to drawing the way the professor wanted me to draw, I was the worst at that. We spent class time drawing from nude models and we were required to draw in a fixed amount of time, one hour or less usually. I had never drawn from a live model before and I did not work well under the time constraints. I was frustrated at the way art was taught. Since I was doing so horribly, in the eyes of the professor, she decided to give me an extra credit assignment: draw what ever I wanted, however I wanted, from home, and turn the drawing in. I looked through magazines and found a picture of Anthony Hopkins from "The Silence of the Lambs” movie. It was a great photo and Anthony Hopkins had a great deep, staring, serous look. I had never drawn a male face before and I decided I would give it a try. I spent a month on that drawing (about 40 hours total), which was longer than I had ever spent on a drawing before. I turned it in on the last day of class and the professor asked me if I had done it. I asked her what she meant by that. She said to me, "Well, you didn't draw this." I was stunned. I said, "of course i did. that is my signature." She went on to accuse me a putting my signature on work that was not mine. There was no formal charge of plagiarism, but my art schooling ended that day. I've never taken an art class since.
I drew off and on for about 10 years as a hobby after college. When i was 30 years old, I started drawing professionally. I was working as a card dealer at a Native American casino in California. One of the players approached me one day and asked me if I did anything else besides deal poker. I told him that i drew portraits of people. He asked me how much I would charge to draw him and his wife from a photo. Reaching for sky, I told him that it would cost $1000, thinking that he would never pay that much for a drawing. To my utter amazement, he paid me $500 cash upfront to start the drawing and he paid me $500 when I was finished. That was the moment when I knew I could be an artist professionally. I always thought that I would hate being a professional artist because I would be forced to make money and that would ruin my love of creating. When he paid me such a large amount and gave me the freedom to draw what I wanted, that changed my mindset. Within a week, I quit my job and threw myself into my art career. I've had many commission drawings since, but my drawing commissions have slowed down since 2008. Mostly because I desire to drawing really high end portraits that take 6 months to 1 year to complete. There are just not that many people that want to pay $100,000 for a drawing unfortunately and that is what it would take for me to really be able to dive into drawing again because my family and I would need to be able to survive while doing a commission that takes that long.