Friday, June 18, 2010

Guess who's learning how to draw?

I KNOW, can you even believe it? I can't remember the last time I've been so eager about learning something new.

Here's the deal--completely out of character, I signed up for a class called "Visual Essay" at the KCAI Northland Campus which, by the way, smells squeaky brand-new and made me want to paint my living room just so it could smell new too. Anyway, I was so excited to discover this class, I told my friends Pam K. and Keion J. about it, and they signed up too.

Necessary backstory--I have never, ever been able to draw. I don't remember a single time my artwork made it to the refrigerator for display. Did parents do that in the 60's? Had refrigerator magnets been invented? Hang on, let me check. Just as I suspected, refrigerator magnets have been around since 1924. So much for that excuse. I just wasn't any good at art. What kid is not good at art, you might wonder?

Well, this kid.

And what made matters worse is that my mom was really good at it. In fact, after she graduated from Paseo High School in the early 50's, she wanted to go to art school. Unfortunately, my German grandmother told her, "You vill not go to zee art school. You vill be a nurse." I wasn't there so I don't know if that's the exact dialog, but I knew Grandma well enough to guess that's probably pretty close. My poor mom. The house she grew up in was like Stalag 13 only without the Hogan's Heroes comedic relief. No wonder she died when she was only 48. Fortunately, I have a lot of her sketchbooks and a few paintings, but it still breaks my heart to think of her spending her life getting thrown up on and giving people enemas when she could have been doing something she really loved. But that's a whole nother story.

Back to my class--so on Wednesday, we met for the first time, and I have to say my teacher is great. I'd say that even if she wasn't a friend. Denise C. brought us all kinds of published journals to look at, and she even shared her very own sketch books with us. She talked about her semester in New York, and what she learned about drawing people and buildings. She talked about different ways we could keep our journals and that we could use "ephemera." (Is that not one of the floatiest words a mouth can say? It sounds like fluttery, fairywings and how can you not love that?)

Anyhoo, I was getting all jazzed about this class, even though at break there was no vending machine and all I could think about was that the only thing this perfect evening was missing was a diet Coke. So there I was, feeling 4-year old happy. It was heavenly. But then, after break, she made us DRAW! Right there, in front of each other! I was so scared, I kept making these little puppy-whimper sounds like I did back when I was in hip-hop class and kept running into the other dancers during my turns. (Ask my friend Meghan C. for details. It was a personal low point, but apparently very funny, if you weren't me.)

Anyway, we did this thing called "contour drawing" where we had to look at someone in the class and then draw them. We were supposed to glance down at our paper only briefly and keep our pencils moving. I drew my friend Pam who is about as pretty as a girl can get even when she isn't smiling beatifically but my drawing made her look like a T-Rex. I was mortified because, guess what? WE HAD TO SHARE OUR DRAWINGS WITH EVERYONE. Fortunately, Pam graciously giggled, and I think she may have even said "I LOVE this." Plus, she didn't strangle me, so yay for that.

Our journals are supposed to be 75% visual and 25% words which makes sense, but of course, freaked me out further so I asked could we just draw one giant thing, like a refrigerator on a page, as long as it took up 75% of the space? And Denise said, "Sure, I'd LOVE it if you drew a refrigerator." Which brings me to my point. (I know, finally, right?) She was so accepting and encouraging that the next day, on the bus, I brought my sketchbook and drew all the way to work. It was about the most fun thing I've done in a long, long time and that includes enjoying my Friday night Flirtinis. Plus now, my art won't have to go on the fridge because it will BE the fridge.

Anyway, sorry about all the rambling. And sorry I haven't renamed my blog. I think it's an unconscious problem admitting my age. Plus, I'm lazy. I hope you guys are still out there since I haven't posted in forev. I just didn't have anything very interesting to say until now. OK,
gotta go. I got me some sketching to do. Wish me luck!


  1. Can I please please have a look at your journal? I can even scan pages for you if you want to add them to your blog. I've got so many art links to share. Excited!

  2. Drawing makes me feel like I'm floating--I drew constantly when I was little. Thanks for reminding me to remember to mix it up with the writing.

  3. This is so cool! Yay for you. Did you draw refrigerator art onto your fridge drawing? That'd be almost like the Cream of Wheat box that has on it the picture of the guy holding the Cream of Wheat box.

  4. "could we just draw one giant thing, like a refrigerator on a page, as long as it took up 75% of the space?"

    you already think like an artist. welcome aboard.

  5. You all are funny and nice.
    But, now I'm nervous because my new interest isn't my own little secret anymore. Plus, I'm ascared to go back and draw in my sketchbook because it was so much fun yesterday, I'm afraid whatever I do today will ruin it, and I'll decide I've made a big mistake ,and I suck and why am I even trying, and on it goes. That is the running story inside my head every time I write anything, so I should be used to it by now. Do all creative people suffer from self-doubt? What a way to live, huh?
    Toon, I will try to "screw my courage to the sticking point" and get the nerve up to share, but I ain't promisin' nothin' yet.
    Thanks, Everyone, for the support.
    Joy, i LOVE the Quaker Oats reference.
    Pat, enjoying writing and drawing this week.
    Snakey, you crack me up! I'm not an artist, just a wannabe. Now YOU, sister, no one can touch your style. And that's the truth! I LOVED that son book you did. Amazing!
    Bye for now.

  6. Ok, the hip hop thing still makes me laugh whenever I think about it! We had FUN in that class! Which is the whole point! I'm glad you're having fun with drawing, too.

  7. yes, mc, thank goodness i had you to imitate what i looked and sounded like because i was totally unaware. as per usual.

  8. I'm so glad you took your sketchbook onto the bus and did those lovely bus drawings -- and your fabulous "Profile of Stranger with Curlicue Ear."

    I honestly believe we all have it in us to draw.
    It's part of our human DNA.
    But, like Lynda Barry sez, the Two Questions (Is This Good - or Does This SUCK) can stop us from having all kinds of cool floaty feelings in life.

    I love my teacher Marshall Arisman for explaining to my class that Our Egos Can't Draw. or write... or sing... or dance...
    Pass it on!

  9. oh, how cool. How is this class going now? What are you up to? I want you to post a drawing!! :)