FEATURE – The ability to express oneself creatively, whether through words or art, can be especially difficult at times for a person that identifies as an introvert.
Meet Carrie McClish, 59, a long-time journalist from Oakland, California who in her spare time takes not a pen to reporter’s notebook in order to take notes but a pencil to paper to draw. Currently a freelance writer, when she isn’t writing a story for publication, McClish often will be found illustrating her latest piece of art, usually a drawing of herself or a sketch of her pets (she lives with her two feline friends, Ruby and Rufus, which sometimes serve unwittingly as McClish’s models).
“I enjoy drawing people and small animals (e.g., pet portraits) and sketching on location,” says McClish.
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‘Drawing’ Inspiration Early On
McClish’s earliest works of art were created in grade school. After initially being attracted to the artwork from comic strips (e.g., “Peanuts”) on the comics page of the city’s daily newspaper, she began drawing her own cartoons, further developing her artistic talent.
“In high school, I entered a cartoon contest — a rather bold move for my introverted self (I rarely shared my cartoons with others) — and was shocked when my entry was one of three that was picked for publication,” says McClish.
Despite McClish’s early passion for art? Realizing that her writing skills were stronger than her ability to draw, in college, McClish decided to major in journalism instead.
For more than three decades, McClish lent her writing skills to a handful of publications in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her longest stint as a journalist, though, was as a staff writer for The Catholic Voice (the official newspaper, now a magazine, of the Diocese of Oakland) where she reported on a variety of topics concerning the diocese, from events at local parishes to education-related news in the parochial schools (see this example of one of her many articles which features a certain writer). Unfortunately, after 35 years, in 2020, McClish’s position was cut due to layoffs as a result of the global pandemic.
While becoming a writer was the professional career path that McClish took in life, that didn’t stop her from pursuing the desire to draw. In order to sharpen her drawing skills, as part of McClish’s artistic adventure, she subscribed to art-centric magazines and, later, enrolled in art classes (both in-person and online).
iPad Pro: A Digital Sketchbook
With regard to her artist’s toolset, McClish primarily draws in a sketchbook using traditional art tools such as pencils or pens but sometimes uses colored pencils, markers, watercolors, as well as charcoal and, occasionally, paint.
For the past five years, however, this aspiring artist has been using a different type of medium to create art. When the iPad Pro came onto the scene, McClish was intrigued at the prospect of using a stylus to draw on the screen of a tablet computer. So, as a modern way to enhance her existing set of traditional art tools, in 2017, she decided to purchase the device and, since then, she has never looked back.
“It was a big learning curve, but, I have never regretted including this device as part of my art journey,” says McClish.
In addition to McClish’s iPad Pro? Her digital artist’s toolset includes the Apple Pencil and an app called Procreate, all of which allow her to create art digitally on her tablet computer.
According to McClish, the best part about drawing digitally on the iPad Pro is that it can be done without making a mess but, that said, she still uses traditional art tools like pencil and paper, mostly because she enjoys the tactile experience of getting her hands covered with whatever materials she happens to be using (e.g., charcoal, ink, or paint).
Apple Pencil vs. PC Mouse
McClish’s artistic adventure from traditional art tools to digital originally began on a PC computer where she experimented with a software application which allowed her to draw using a mouse.
“It was fun and challenging,” says McClish. “And, I do like a challenge!”
McClish vividly recalls the experience and how awkward it was to draw using a mouse, whereas, in comparison, with the Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro, drawing felt much more natural to her as it was akin to a pencil on paper (or, McClish’s sketchbook).
Speaking of the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro? In addition to those Apple products, McClish also owns an iPhone 6s and a MacBook but, because all of those items are outdated, she hopes (and, plans) to upgrade to newer models in the near future.
“I do like Apple products,” says McClish.
Luck Of The ‘Draw’
These days, as far as McClish’s writing skills are concerned, when she’s not sketching traditionally or drawing digitally, the writer in her has been exploring other areas of the written word (E.g., novels, screenplays, poetry, and more). On the journalistic front, she has continued, on occasion, to contribute articles to various publications (one of which has included The Catholic Voice). Naturally, of course, McClish, who turns 60 in October, often wonders what it would have been like if she had chased her dream and became an artist as her professional career choice.
“I think there is a big part of my DNA that is wired for creativity,” says McClish. “And, I am very grateful for that.”
Coincidentally, on the topic of DNA, McClish’s ancestry test results have revealed that while she is primarily of African descent, approximately 85%, a small percentage of her heritage is Scandinavian. Interestingly enough, on top of that, McClish noted that her last name actually traces its roots back to Scotland — not Ireland — as most people tend to assume (when asked about it, since she is African-American, she just responds with a simple shrug). And, as luck would have it, this (having a surname that sounds Irish in origin) sometimes has drawn attention to her: which, for a person that identifies as an introvert, can be a bit unnerving.
“As an introvert, I find being in crowds frustrating and, at times, overwhelming,” says McClish.
“But, when I have time to be alone with my favorite art tools? With each stroke of a pen, a paintbrush, or — in the case of my digital art — an Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro, my spirit is able to breathe and feel alive.”
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