Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve always been envious of people who can draw. Actually, I rail with jealously at the amount of talent that some people have with a pencil and a sheet of paper. It’s such an amazing skill that when I sometimes look at fantastic sketches by artists online, I think to myself, damn it, why can’t I do that? I mean, let’s face it. I too can pick up a pencil and I can draw lines on paper: straight lines, crooked lines, curvy lines, heavily shaded lines…and yet, for some reason, my lines never meld or merge into anything that even remotely resembles art…*sigh*…
So yeah, I tend to turn a deep shade of green when I’m checking out the work of some artists. I raise my fists in the air and shake them angrily, asking a question to a god above: why hast thou forsaken me? Why can’t I draw like that?
Clearly, I find this to be a great tragedy.
The good news about a tragedy is that sometimes it can be a great motivator to turn a bad situation into a good one. In my case, one day after perusing some great sketches online, I decided that I could draw, and as such, I would draw. Below is my first attempt.
Certainly, from my little picture, you can see how rudimentary my “art” is. It lacks depth, life, and a pervading sense of realism that legitimate artists always seem to capture with ease. However, not to be easily deterred, I decided that I needed more practice. So here is my second attempt.
I can’t help but to think that this sketch screams childish or amateur; certainly, that was my impression after I drew it, and so I ended my artistic career.
It would seem that I can be easily deterred.
I’m not without regret that I relinquished my artistic goals. I think that perhaps if I had persevered, I might have demonstrated a modicum of talent.
Or perhaps, more likely, probably not.
I guess the reason I wish I could draw is because I think that great art tells a story.
Look at this cool sketch done by my cousin, Christian Bouchereau. He calls it Frankie and His Wife.
I would like to first point out that this was a little ditty he created one day while bored at work. Really, Art Gods? Really? The guy is just plain old bored at work and this is what he produces. Can you imagine the quality of the work if he only had to focus on his art…?
But I digress…
Because I personally know the artist, I can recognize the humor in his drawing. And yet, when I look at this picture, I can’t help but be a little transported; because the sketches are so good, I feel like for a moment I’m looking through pen and ink to the heart of his characters. Christian brings them to life, and for a moment, for me, they float off the page, larger than life, begging me to know their story, be it happy or sad, full of pain or full of laughter, replete with chills or replete with thrills—they are monsters, after all.
Regardless, that’s what good art does: make me wonder.
Or take my daughter, for instance, who at twelve years old, demonstrates a true talent for art. (Naturally, I’m a little biased, but go with me on this for a minute.) Of course artistically, she has growing to do, but whatever seeds are necessary to become a real budding artist have definitely been planted within my child. As such, when I look at her sketches (which span varying degrees of skill, I’ll admit) I can’t help but be carried away by the subject of her pieces and marvel about her characters.
I like to think that there is a story behind this sketch. When I look at the woman lying there, she too, like Frankie and His Wife, seems to rise off the paper and invites me to know her story, whatever it entails: who is she? What was she thinking? Where was she? Why was she there?
That’s where my mind goes when I see great art like this: to the story behind it. And I like that.
For my daughter, I hope that one day, she will create images and art that people will remember forever, and that her work will tell great stories to the people who admire it.
When I think of it this way, I’m no longer jealous. I actually swell with pride.
But I digress…again…
In any case, that is the cool thing about sketch art, or any art, for that matter. Pictures tell a thousand stories, and as I said earlier, it’s a talent that I wish I had…
And yet, the fact of the matter is, despite evidence to the contrary, I do have that talent. I can draw. I can take a pencil and a sheet paper and paint a fantastic image for an onlooker, except the little lines and curves I draw on paper actually form letters, which in turn form words, which become sentences, then paragraphs, then stories…
Yes, as a writer, I do draw, and like what any successful writer I’m sure will tell you, it takes just as much talent to paint a picture for a reader with words as it does to tell a story with a picture.
They’re actually two sides of the same coin, I think. The story you read creates a picture for you in your mind of a particular time and place, of a person or persons, of a smell, a touch, a memory. Writing is a kind of “drawing talent” that demands that the author sketch an image into the reader’s head, so that they can fully partake in the action, the drama, the emotion, or the horror.
When fiction is well-written, the reader is able to visualize the story, whatever it is, however it appears. In fact, it might be better than traditional art, because good writing not only paints a picture, but it puts you in the scene: close enough to touch the main character, taste the coffee, feel the action. It’s interactive art.
How cool is that?
There’s a saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. I don’t think that I have to explain that, but I would expand upon it: “a thousand words can paint one hell of a picture”.
When I sit at my computer late at night, the act of choosing the right words to create a particular image in the reader’s mind is no small task. It takes time, attention to detail, diligence, and imagination. (A big vocabulary and a basic sense of both grammar and punctuation don’t hurt either.) But I think that’s what makes writing so similar to drawing.
It’s the engine that fuels creativity and allows the artist or the writer to tell their stories, in whatever medium they choose.
And I guess for me, that’s a beautiful thing, because I really do want to draw.
Thank goodness I can.