Tuesday, February 22, 2005

828 Childhood memories--learning to draw

Both Karin and Paula are blogging about childhood memories, getting ideas from different sources, and both are writers having recently participated in the write a novel in a month (NaNoWriMo) contest. I've just about tapped that source out (childhood), or the memory cells are shriveling (Quick--if you've got one, write it down. Don't expect it to stick around forever).

This was written two years ago, and no, I didn't stick with my plan.

When I was in the early elementary grades, for some reason I fell in love with horses. I was probably about seven, because I don’t remember having any interest in horses in first grade. In pretend outdoor games, I was always riding a horse--galloping. Also, indoors--as I would trot on my hands and knees through the living room with my younger brother on my back until Daddy would complain we were making too much noise. My blue bicycle was my horse, Rusty (even though it wasn’t) and my friend JoElla’s bicycle was “Red,” also a horse and also blue. We would ride Rusty and Red around Forreston developing the storyline as we went.

My interest in horses soon moved to books and drawing. I read all the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley and all the Marguerite Henry books. I still have my “Born to Trot” and “The Blood-bay Colt.” I would draw horse stories, it seems now, by the hour at the dining room table. Mother brought home discontinued wall paper rolls for me to use as drawing paper if we ran out of our own scraps. (This was before the pre-pasted came on the market.) My uncle worked at a printing plant and she would also get bundles of unused white newsprint from him for me to draw on.

Mother never interfered or gave advice--she did however, buy me a few “how-to” drawing books and took me along with her to Freeport to the adult night school where I took a brief drawing class (the only child in the class) while she took a typing class. I really didn’t care much for this class because horses were the only thing I knew how to draw or cared about, and the instructor would set up a still life with draping and small figurines--really boring for a kid. But one day Mother stopped at the dining room table--I can see and hear her as though it happened today--and observed that horses had “hocks” and if I would just make a few curves in the hind legs, my horses might look more realistic. She had grown up on a farm and ridden behind “Beauty,” in a carriage when the roads were bad in the Spring and also had a pony one summer when her family was in Nebraska. So, although she wasn’t much of an artist, she knew the shape of a horse from direct experience, something I didn’t have. What a transformation. Instead of straight legs, my horses now had a bit more grace, and I drew even more furiously and made up even more exciting stories.

To this day, a horse is the only animal I can draw. Every time I look at my stick-like figures of dogs, cows and bunnies, it puzzles me that I can draw horses while blindfolded or standing on my head or in the dirt with my big toe. Obviously, my skill with horses is a result of practice and devotion and not talent. So last week, I decided I would go on a crash course to learn to draw animals. I never set goals because I’m a problem solver. So, to solve this problem of stick figured dogs and cats, I decided I would practice drawing one and a half animals a week--for seven days I would work and concentrate on one animal and around day five I’d start the next animal. I have a very smart cat. She rolls up in a ball and closes her eyes when she sees me pick up a pencil and open a sketchbook.


Update:

day 3

2 comments:

murrayT said...

Hopefully it doesn't take you 5 days to draw a cat rolled up into a ball. I think you need to take up golf or something.

Norma said...

29 is too old for golf.