My Friends Call Me Schwave

My name is Dave. My friends call me Schwave. Schwave has been a nickname of mine since I was very young, and the nickname has endured.

To pronounce "Schwave," first start by making a "sh" sound, as if you were telling someone to be quiet. Then, say the word "wave," as in 'a wave of water' or 'to wave goodbye.' Finally, combine those two sounds into a single, continuous sound (one syllable). Schwave.

Self portrait (photograph)

Given the high number of people named Dave, I am actually more likely to respond to Schwave rather than Dave. Especially in crowds, it is fairly common to have another person named Dave nearby. On numerous occasions, I have experienced 'someone nearby saying "Dave" only to turn and find that they were referring to someone else.' This has happened often enough that I sometimes tune out my actual name. Meanwhile, I answer to Schwave just fine.

To varying degrees, I have been doing art for most of my life. Professionally speaking, my career revolves around computer science and computer programming. Artwork is something I do on the side as a hobby, just for fun. I am not a professional artist. I am just doing what I enjoy, and learning as I go.

In terms of my background as an artist, there are two main areas that I have focused in: drawing/sketching and photography. More recently, I have started to learn digital painting and have even dabbled in 3D modeling a couple times.

Drawing and Sketching

A portrait of Philip Seymour Hoffman I drew for an assignment during a fundamentals of 2D art class in college. Drawn using pencil.

Of all the arts, I enjoy drawing and sketching the most. When I was young, I used to draw and sketch all the time. It was common for me to draw for hours on end, forgetting to take breaks. Sometimes, I would even forget to eat, skipping entire meals without even noticing. I would just tune out the world and draw. It was so peaceful, relaxing, and comforting. It did not matter if I was good or bad at it, or if anyone else liked what I drew. It was just for me, and I loved it.

I miss that feeling. I miss getting lost in doing art.

In college I studied computer science, not art. A year or two into undergrad, the workload from my classes caused the frequency of drawing and sketching to drop quite a bit. New classes, new friends, new influences, new responsibilities, etc. all contributed to a decline in frequency. I did take at least one art-related class during undergrad, fundamentals of 2D artwork. To the right is a photorealistic portrait of Philip Seymour Hoffman that I drew as one of the assignments in that class. The drawing is based off of a photograph from a magazine. Unfortunately, by the time I left undergrad, I had all but stopped drawing, only making a handful of drawings per year.

An illustration of a sick SARS-CoV-2 virus made during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

In the last several years, an itch to return to drawing and sketching has been flaring up again. I have started following some artists on Twitter. I am once again catching myself noticing visual details around me. Noticing, appreciating, and breaking down the art I find around me in everyday life. I have done a few portraits for r/RedditGetsDrawn and participated in #Inktober 2019 on Twitter.

So, here I am in the fall of 2020, working my way back to finding that passion once again. While I am not where I want to be yet, I am certainly working on artwork more often than I had been several years prior. Ideally, I can get to the point where I practice on a daily basis without even thinking about it. A place where I just naturally grab a pencil and draw.

Along these lines, I am once again looking around for a local art class. Though, the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily delayed those plans. If anyone out there happens to know of some good art classes, groups, clubs, etc. in the San Francisco Bay Area that they would recommend, please let me know. Recommendations for online courses are welcome as well. I tend to prefer in-person classes, but I am open to online as well. If the pandemic continues much longer, online might be the only choice in the next year or so.

As described in a previous post, this blog is one of the things that I am hoping will help keep me on a path back to art. At the very least, it can serve as a place for me to document my progress, write down various resources I find, and note the things I learn along the way. Hopefully, by having it public, other artists on the same journey will find some value in it as well.


A long exposure looking down Green Street towards Campus Town at UIUC.

I actually did a small amount of photography when I was younger. My father has been doing photography ever since I can remember. When my brother and I were children, my father had a darkroom setup in our basement. This was back before digital photography was really a thing (at least in the consumer space). He taught my brother and I how to load film into canisters, load those canisters in our cameras, take photographs, develop the film, and make prints from the resulting negatives. By our early teens, we could go through the entire process, from start to finish.

Though, while I was young, I never really did photography in a serious way. At that time, I much preferred drawing and sketching (and computer programming, but that is a different matter altogether).

It was not until my earlier years in graduate school that I really took up photography as a serious hobby. Though, as the graduate school continued and the workload increased, especially near the end, I once again found myself having to set photography off to the side.

As with drawing and sketching, I find myself wanting to return to photography, especially in the last year or so. It is a bit challenging to find the time since it has nothing to do with my day job, and I have other responsibilities. That said, I am working on integrating photography back into my life.