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Don Mayer: About five years ago I did what I guess a number of other people do when they want to start to
draw… I went online and ordered up colored pencils, watercolor pencils, pastels, pen, ink, nibs, an eraser and a watercolor set like the ones my elementary school students used during their art classes. The first two or three years I seemed to burn through all those media -- discarding some and latching on to others. Finally, in the last year or so, I’ve just settled on my #107 Speedball nib, pen holder, Higgins Fountain Pen India ink, pencil and eraser.
All the other stuff resides in a wooden container under the desk I work at. I should probably take it to the
Sandwich Central School and have the kids over there put it to good use! I don’t have much formal training in drawing, but when I was a freshman in college I did take a Basic Drawing class and infamously produced a life-sized self-portrait that bore a striking resemblance to the Frankenstein monster… Then, my sophomore year I took Wood Cut and Printmaking and loved the sharp black lines that would jump off the printed block onto the paper. I imagine the latter course segued into my attraction to black pen and ink.
As for artists that have influenced my work, I have two rather disparate people : Stephen Huneck and Van Gogh… I’ve had two black labs during the last 16 years, and Huneck’s fun and loving prints of dogs have always been attractive to me; the humor really comes through in his work! And Van Gogh, well, I don’t know a lot about art history, but I’ve always liked the license he seems to take with perspective, and my favorite painting of his is The Bedroom. As you can tell from my drawings, my sense of perspective is a bit “off,” but I like to think it’s painters like Van Gogh who are whispering in my ear, “Hey, it’s OK buddy, just keep doing what you’re doing.”
The other big influence on my drawing is my love of the outdoors, running on trails and dirt roads and enjoying the goofy fun of dogs. The canine commentator in my pictures is sometimes blithely quoting poetry, sometimes critiquing my work, but is always there as a good natured friend that reminds me to live in the moment and have fun with this new venture.