I was a mere beginner... My first published work done as a student.
Everyone starts somewhere. For me, and I suspect it's the same with most artists, this beginning lies far back in my subconscious, alongside memories of bedtime stories beside a loving parent, that first traumatic bike crash or the fish I caught barehanded. I simply do not remember the first time I picked up a crayon and tried to draw. I do remember countless hours spent drawing and coloring though. I remember getting frustrated with coloring books because the drawings were not always what I wanted to color. It seemed boring to me to simply fill in what someone else had drawn regardless of my attempts to shade or blend different colored crayons together. My mother suggested early on that I might like to make my own coloring books which I thereafter created with a childlike passion. I recall even creating a custom dinosaur coloring book for a friend's birthday and being disappointed when he did not find it as cool as I did.
Many afternoons were spent drawing on the cool cement floor of our then unfinished basement family room. My brother and I would unfurl huge end rolls of newsprint which my father brought home from his work as an ad executive (the rolls were leftovers from the newspaper press checks he visited). Epic murals of tank battles, dinosaur filled landscapes, or snowmobile races emerged from the never ending rolls of paper. By the time I was about eight or nine, my brother discovered a basketball and I was left to pursue my art without him (though younger brothers sometimes joined in the fun).
Pencils and crayons led to watercolors and then acrylics as I gained more and more confidence in what I loved to do. My parents were ever supportive and never discouraged me in my artistic quest, for which I will be forever grateful. They later told me that they had no doubt I would make a career of art simply because they could see how passionate I was about it. Well, If you count back to the first time I sold a piece of art, I have spent about thirty years as a professional artist. If you go back to the first published work I created, I have been an illustrator for twenty-one.
I searched my files for some early examples of my work (like the floral watercolor I did at age 6 that my mother kept) but was only able to locate what I recall as my first published color illustration. I did the above piece for the campus fantasy magazine early in my third year of undergrad studies at Brigham Young University. I think I got paid about $100. Well, you gotta start somewhere.