I was visiting my parents home this past week and was reminded of the humble beginnings my love of drawing (and art) was founded upon. While digging around in the basement with my daughters as we were house-bound in a Northeastern snow storm, I ran across some old drawings my brother David, a friend Vinny, and I used to create together. I rolled them out and recalled to my daughters the cold winter days I would spend blissfully telling stories through the pencil. It brought back a flood of memories and discoveries long buried. The realization came that I must have drawn alot as a young child. My artistic skills benefited greatly from those days of being stuck in a winter bound house in Vermont as a child, inspired to create art!
As an artist who did not pick up a tube of acrylics or oils until I was 19, nor enroll in my first art class until I was 20 (after realizing that I needed serious help with those tubes!), I truely believe that if you want to make your dreams come true, it is all in your power to make it possible. I never thought I would become a professional artist as a young boy – I merely drew because it made me, and my friends, feel good about ourselves and each other. I did not try to draw, I had to draw.
I jokingly state that I am a perpetual child, still sequestered at home doing the same thing I did when I was 10 years old…I hope to die with a pencil in my hand doing exactly the same thing.
Here are some images from then and now. Tap into your own deep well of inspiration, and may you too die with a pencil in your hand…
Dwarf Warrior 1980 Donato Giancola
Gimli: Son of Gloin 2009 Donato Giancola
Gandalf and the Balrog 1982 Donato Giancola
I threw down my enemy… 2012 Donato Giancola
AT-AT from The Empire Strikes Back 1980 Donato Giancola
Born in 1967 and raised in Colchester, Vermont, USA, art was always a hobby for Donato as a young man, he would steal away into the basement of his parents' home to work on drawings, create his own maps for the game Dungeons & Dragons, paint figurines, read comics, and construct model tanks and dinosaurs. His love of imaginative play dominated his childhood, both indoors and out. At the age of twenty Donato enrolled in his first formal art class, the beginning of his professional training. Immediately after graduating Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Painting from Syracuse University in 1992, Donato moved to New York City to immerse himself in the inspired and varied art scene. Formative years in the early nineties were spent as the studio assistant to the preeminent figure painter Vincent Desiderio, and long days of study in the museums of New York. It was then that his love and appreciation of classical figurative art took hold. He continues his training even now, visiting museums regularly, learning from and sometimes copying original paintings by Rembrandt or Rubens, attending life drawing sessions with illustrator friends and constantly challenges himself within each new project. Pilgrimages to major museums are his preferred reason to travel.
Donato has released a revised hard cover compilation of his works on the theme of J.R.R. Tolkien, Middle-Earth: Journeys in Myth and Legend from Dark Horse Comics.
waw I think you just melted my brain with sheer raw awesomeness. thx for this post.
Donato, that is so inspiring! There have been times when I have been tempted to “put away childish things”, but you have kept your childhood passions close and they have been able to pay off for you financially (I assume) and creatively. It reminds me why I started doing this in the first place and inspires me to carry on. Thank you!
Fantastic too see the differences between illustrations 25 years back in time.
thanks for sharing.
That old Iron Man is not bad at all!!
This is awesome. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing it! It's really inspirational to see how your skills evolved!
Of all the muddycolors posts ~ This ranks First Class for Inspiration.
I wish I had kept my old drawings and paintings, would have being nice.
Just look what practice can do!
I didn't think I could draw a straight line with a ruler until I was 27 and didn't take an art class until I was 30. I find the really interesting thing is that when I did those first drawings, I really thought that they were the shizz. I cringe at them now but at the time… I even gave them away as presents.
“may you too die with a pencil in your hand…” Hey, wait a second! I am holding a pencil right now. What did you mean ? 😛
Anyone can learn to draw, no more fears.
Charming and inspiring…Thanks!
What a great and humble thing you just shared with the whole world. Thanks for bearing your artistic soul, Donato. I would definitely go for dying with a pencil in my hand, as well…though I'm more of an ink-pen man.
^ . ^
Thank you for all the kind words everyone. Of course these inspirations are all coming with 20/20 hindsight and I was lucky enough to have many of my early career images scanned and photographed (that comes from the era of fine arts documentation with slides! ). But regardless, it shows how i dip into those deep motivators from time to time. What I should share with you all is how to sip from this well while I am working on a project which is not directly related to these inspirations. THAT is a real challenge!
Thank you for commenting and sharing this post.
These are wonderful Donato! Thank you for sharing these childhood drawings with us. I can look back at my own work as a child and see certain directions that I was starting to take. Always there is an undercurrent of desire to tell stories. I think that's what you have here in your early work. In my opinion your Balrog/Gandalf drawing from 1982 is the best! Pretty visionary if you ask me… Thanks for the inspiration.
Great post! Many people only see the current successes and forget nobody was born with those skills, but that they had to be earned over time with a lot of practice.
So inspirationnal, thanks Donato !
It would certainly be better to die with a pencil in one's hand than in one's head, although my preferred death scenario is more like that described by Tyrion in Game of Thrones…
Even though I have drawn all my life (art was my favorite class all through school), I somehow didn't realize it could be a profession! It took dropping out of high school, and taking an art class in night school while I was working on my GED to start that ball rolling. Still, I didn't start art school until I was 25, and by then, I pretty much thought I was the bomb. My first semester dispelled that particular myth, almost to the point of making me leave school entirely. Luckily, one of my instructors saw what was happening and took me under his wing. Though I am not a professional now (but I am planning to self publish in the next few weeks), nor am I well known, there are people out there who think I have skazillz.For my 20 or so fans, my friends and family, and most importantly for my own sanity and happiness, I will continue on making art.
Im want to be a illustrator when im older!