a Thursday Theme entry
Before girls, before music, before reading, before writing, before that first peck on the cheek from a girl on the playground who I later found out was my cousin (small town heartbreak for ya) heck, before Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, there was drawing. I loved to draw. It was something I just did, no one told me I should try it, no one prompted me, I just started drawing. My mother saved the very first thing I drew. She said it was a spider web. She told me that I sat down and as easily and precisely as someone who had been doing it for years, I drew a simple cobweb. She admitted it was nothing special, but the ease with which I rendered something so concisely impressed her. I had just learned to hold a pencil. She didn’t expect to recognize what came out of it, through my hand, but she did.
My love for drawing was cultivated over the years. I drew all the time. I went to school and drew. I met friends who drew, too. We would sit around and draw, listening to the radio, and come up with things to put on paper. Some of my very favorite times and memories are linked to specific songs and the lines and colors that went with them. My best friend and I would get DC Who’s Who comics and pick our favorite characters and try to draw them. Then we learned to invent our own characters. Those years were Jody Watley and Fine Young Cannibals and Rick Astley and the Steve Winwood solo albums and turquoise and yellow and red lasers shooting out of fingertips.
I had a friend who asked me what I wanted to do one afternoon when he was visiting. I said I wanted to draw. He said, cool, let’s draw. What do you want to draw? I said let’s draw robots. He said, cool, I love robots. So we got out the markers and we started scribbling. He came up with something that looked like Rolie Polie Olie and I was doing something more in the vein of Voltron. He crumpled up his paper and said he didn’t want to draw anymore.
I remember one kid, man, he came up with the most meticulous, sharp, clear drawings of vehicles that I’d ever seen. Cars, tanks, helicopters, whatever he drew, they looked like a blueprint for that particular thing. His parents were in the Navy, and he moved away when I was in second grade. He moved back when his family got stationed nearby again while we were in high school, and he was still doing the same kind of drawings, but he was much better at it. After he graduated, he went on to become an industrial designer, which surprised none of us.
When it came time to choose what to do with my life, I decided I was happy with the artwork I created, but I could always be a better writer, so I didn’t go to art school. I went into the study of language and writing instead, thinking one day I might go into education, but it didn’t happen that way. I enjoyed drawing, and I did it for pleasure, and I thought if I studied it, the enjoyment would be ruined.
I often wish I’d done more with my artistic side. I thought becoming a graphic designer would satisfy me. But I haven’t drawn in a long time. It’s not quite like riding a bike. It’s more like shooting hoops. You gotta keep doing it to stay good. I may have perfected my style, but when I sit down with a pencil in my hand, the things I draw don’t come out the same way anymore. And as far as paying attention and replicating on paper something that exists in the world, I just don’t have the time and energy these days. It’s too bad, but like a lot of first loves, it’s just not the same as you grow older, and it’s probably for the best.
a Thursday Theme entry