April 13, 2011

Artistically challenged

The other day, I’d been to a city publication’s office, with regard to some freelance writing work. During our chat, the lady there asked me what I would be comfortable writing about. I rattled off a list- books, movies, theatre, food, etc.

“What about art? Would you be interested in going to an art exhibition and do reviews?” She asked.

“Err..I don’t think so. I’m not much of an art person.” I said.

What I almost said, then thought better not to, was “Sure, if the art is a pencil-colour drawing of a house with a tree in the garden and a few v-shaped birds in the sky, I don’t mind.”

Alright, confession-time. I can’t draw to save my life.

My idea of drawing was, like the above-mentioned description, a house, a tree, a few birds, if possible a sun, and a couple of stick figures to pass off as people.(Refer pic. It's not just in MS Paint. That's how I draw in real life too). And even to draw a house, I needed a scale! Art class used to be torture time for me, and my art sir finally gave up on me. I used to spend most of the art periods outside the class because I hadn’t completed an assignment, or my friend Nisha, the resident art genius, used to take pity on me and complete it for me.

But, so what if I could not draw? I had the next best thing to it- a mother and a sister who could! Now, all of you who’ve been through this art and crafts charade in school would know how important it is to have a relative or a neighbor or a friend who can draw well. I was blessed enough to have all of them! All my projects that required drawing were promptly handed over to my mom and sis- I didn’t even bother trying, because that would be just a waste of time and resources. ( I used to love to colour, though, but even then I had trouble staying inside the lines).

I still remember, one time, I had a Social Studies project, where we had to submit a model of South America, either on chart paper, or on thermacol. And it had to be a full page drawing on a regular chart paper, which is slightly bigger than the size of a newspaper, and it had to be submitted in two days’ time. I promptly went home and told mom what was expected. Amma took one look at the size of the chart paper, the map of South America, with its collection of teeny-weeny islands (or whatever it was. Geography was never my best friend) at the bottom, and then looked at me. Her eyes silently said “If only you weren’t my daughter... “. I woke up next day morning to see the most wonderful sketch of South America on the dining table, complete with the miniscule islands and everything- she hadn’t missed out on a single detail. She had stayed up almost half the night, bent over the chart paper, replicating each and every shape. I was so gonna get top marks for this!! (Yes, even back then, I was quite shallow. Thankyouverymuch). So all I had to do, was fill in the colours. Sunday night saw my mother, my sister, and my neighbour, Ritu Didi, trying to undo the damage that I had done to my mom’s hard work. I was strictly told to stay away from it. So I did. I needed the marks, after all. Needless to say, my SS sir was mighty impressed by the final outcome (I think most teachers already know that it is the parents who do most of the work. Saves us a lot of explanation, I guess).

Even if it was a project that involved a lot of writing, my mom used to do it for me. She has beautiful, italics-type handwriting, and I have, to quote a friend “like-a-crow-crapped-on-your-page”-type handwriting. My English sir used to painstakingly write on each of my pages, “Improve your handwriting”, till one fine day, he got tired and wrote “Beautiful handwriting!” thinking that I might take a hint. I didn’t. I believe in consistency, you see.

Anyhow, I somehow managed to scrape through all my art and craft-related work thanks to the gifted people around me. My sister was good at drawing, and she used to do a lot of my projects too. My neighbour, Ritu Didi, was a genius at all these things. She used to do my fabric-painting assignments, my embroidery works, and she completed a major part of my biology record-book, with all those weird insects and flowers and what not. The only thing I was ever remotely interested in, was needlework and stitching, and that interest also waned gradually once I realized that you need more than just talent for such things- you need patience too, and that, was definitely not my cup of tea.

I once bought an Anchor Quick Stitch-kit because it caught my fancy (and I was in my Oh-I’m-going-to-be-a-fashion-designer-so-I-want-to-stitch phase). The rusted needle and sad-looking bunny in the unfinished frame is a testimony of my attention-span equivalent to that of a five-year old. So is the box of unused glass painting colours that I had bought when the glass-painting-bug bit me, and that project also met a premature death when my mother accidentally sat on the glass that I had laid out on my bed and broke it. That was the last time I tried to discover the non-existent artist in me. I now stick to admiring other people’s art and appreciating them.

This post is dedicated to my mom, my sister, and to Ritu Didi, for all the work they did. Thank you, for being so gifted. It sure got me out of many a tight spot!

I feel so sorry for the kids that I’ll be having. They’re stuck with a mother who cannot draw and has a terrible handwriting. Poor things.

Dear God, I don’t want a tall, dark, handsome, rich, kind husband. Just give me one that can draw and has beautiful handwriting. For the sake of my unborn children. Please!


  1. Hahaha...Even I cannot draw nor do I have the patience.My dad did most of it.And later on benevolent friends...Don't worry even my mom can't draw well..As for my kids,God save them (probably they might inherit my dad's art-gene).The better half is an aesthetic-cretin!!

  2. @Blue Lotus: I swear, we were such lucky kids, right!! I seriously hope the artistic genes skip a generation and reappear. That's the only hope I can see for my children. Or else, I will have to pray harder to god! :p

  3. Divya,
    Picasso and other Cubists were attempting to break away from the western linear perspective which produced a 3d image on a 2d surface. Picasso's greatest desire was to draw like a child. If you look at many of our tribal and folk 'paintings' it breaks all the set conventional understanding on line, form, perspective etc. So don worry you can also draw.
    And many art historians and art critics like me don know how to draw or sketch. ;) so don give up art writing

  4. @Prem: Ok, a lot of the first few lines went right above my head, but I'm glad to have a professional art critic's take on this. :)
    To be honest, I've always fround Picasso's painiting very weird, as in, not very pleasing to the eyes. But then again, I'm only looking at it from a layman's perspective. I'm more a fan of those obviously artistic paintings, like a scenery, etc.
    So do you think my sketch has any other dimensions or breaks any conventions? ;)

  5. I never used to draw any of the pictures in my bio record. My cousin sister used to draw all of them.And I still can't stitch to save my life. But I used to love water coloring sceneries until I realized that the picture I drew and the picture in my mind were not even remotely similar. But recently I tried drawing a Bambi for my son and it looked reasonably like ..well , a bambi and my son was pleased. :). May be art is also related to the patience we have.


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