“How on earth could u do that? How, how, how?”, he said.
“You like it?”, I asked him uncertain. I was apprehensive about how he might react and this was not what I expected. Was he annoyed?
“I mean it’s so amazing. Thanks a ton. Ya, it looks like me coz I saw myself in the mirror 2day”. He said with finality.
It was a sketch of my friend, John, I had made a few years ago in an attempt to calm my idle mind before it could serve the devil’s workshop. I had tried a few other portraits too, but they ended up as disasters. I admit they looked hideous. Maybe I was not patient enough. The disappointment of not getting the supposed end is always bitter. It was my first attempt at making sketches from colour photographs of people. Until then I had copied other drawings and sketches.
I had just finished my 12th standard and was going through the farewell photos. Some of the solo photos drew my attention. I decided to try out sketching them. The first one I tried had some close resemblance, though I am saying it with prejudice. The next was a total disaster. I gave up half way and did not want to look at it again. Third was John’s. The result was quite good. Now 6 years later I found the long forgotten sketch and sent it over to him and got the above response.
Then I got into college and for some reason, I stopped drawing. I had no more inclination. The only drawings were the diagrams of circuits and apparatus of Physics experiments in my Record Book, or the time pass drawings you do in your rough books when you are bored in class or while studying, and in the greeting cards I made for friends’ birthdays. If I came across any of my old drawings, I looked at them wistfully, even nostalgic, but did not attempt to draw again.
I wouldn’t call myself an artist, but I can say I do some fairly good drawing. It has been a hobby of mine. I am not the type who can draw a few lines without using the eraser and lo and behold, there’s the perfect portrait conjured up in a jiffy. No. I am more an imitator of stills, simple things. I see a picture and in case I am attracted to it, I try drawing it. I even try to gauge how far I can succeed and only then do I get into it.
I had participated in one of the drawing competitions in school and the theme I attempted from the given choices was the 9/11 crash. I was probably in the sixth standard. A clear picture had formed in my mind. I set to work with the water colours, trying to paint the same picture. The given time was up even before I had finished the last of the brush strokes. I knew what I saw before me was not even close to what I had imagined. Anyway I didn’t win any prize. But what I had not expected was the reaction I got at home. I had some relatives visiting us then, and I showed it to them. They had such a laugh over the drawing I’d made. They made a scene about not being able to make any head or tail of it. Well no one could anyway. “Which is the top side?”, they asked amidst the jeering.
“What is it supposed to be anyway?”, was another remark.
I explained what it was, tears welling up in my eyes, and they laughed some more. How could they laugh at me? My very own people! I had not hoped for applause, but certainly not the mockery either. I felt hurt and humiliated and wanted to learn to do better.
I used to draw all during my vacations. I usually spent the vacations with my grandparents owing to the fact that I would be alone at home if I didn’t. I carried my drawing book along or found some old papers to draw. Being an avid reader since childhood, I read a lot of comics and story books. And when I was not reading, I was trying to copy the comic illustrations into my drawing book. I did the Tinkle and Disney characters.
The only time I attended any class was for about a couple of weeks. I did learn some colouring styles. But then I was beckoned from my grandparents’ and off I was sent packing. I had some Pencil shading books gifted to me by a family friend. I learnt a great deal of shading from the books.
Recently my grandparents had visited us and had stayed with us for a while. As an attempt to keep them entertained, I showed them my drawing books and both of them sat for the whole evening looking through the pictures and studying and observing them as if they were some old photo albums, making a remark here and there. I got excited as I looked at each picture and remembered where it was from, trying to recall what the story was about. I felt a familiar sensation creeping into me. I wanted to start drawing again. But I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know if I still had it in me. I loved some of the sketches I had made. Could I match them or get better? I tried ignoring the whole idea. I was tempted when I saw some beautiful pictures. I saved them hoping to start one day.
Then it happened. My friend Ashok had sent me his niece’s photo. A tiny pink bundle, barely a month old, entirely wrapped up but for the little face, in deep baby slumber. The innocent and peaceful face drew me as I fell in love with her. I took out my drawing book, sharpened a 3B pencil and set about making her sketch. I took the time and went slow and cautious. Three days later, the result was amazing!
The result was more than the sketch; it was the encouragement and confidence. I saw it all in a different face. The touch of the pencil, the effort and patience it takes, is like meditation. I get transported into a different realm. I feel a kind of peace within myself. The immense pleasure derived after accomplishing it is priceless. I realize now how much it is meant for me and how less for others. Of course, the compliments of others are encouraging and motivating. But the happiness lies in the entire process of it; from the moment I sent my eyes on the picture and start the first lines, to the moment of completion of the picture, every moment is to be cherished. I have continued drawing and working on improving. Sometimes I get the praise like John’s and sometimes I don’t. The best being when my very close friend Ranjana uploaded her sketch as her profile picture. The learning process continues from square one.