Reflections: What has changed

My final examinations are drawing near but I spent my weekends insulting Hugh Jackman through my drawings. I did not mean to : it would be the last thing to cross my mind. But since he won’t be starring as my dear Logan any more, and perhaps we will get to see a new face for that character in a few years, I wanted to somehow commemorate him. An ode or something. So I decided to try drawing him, and my sketchbook is full of my failed attempts. None of my sketches resembled him in any way. So I put off attempting after three pitiable failures. None of them gave me any satisfaction, not even a drop of it. This is what my passion for drawing has come to.

When I was small, I would fill any empty space with my doodles, be it my father’s diaries, my old notebooks or the back of calendars. They would be the outputs of my imagination, something I would be proud of. I was especially fascinated by Snow white’s stepmother and her mirror, as many of my drawings would attest. She was the most hideous character I have ever drawn, not the beautiful queen that the story describes. But I would draw her again and again with some variations, each no less ugly than the first, yet beautiful in its own way. I had even created my own illustrated version of Rapunzel, copying it down from my picture book. Back then, I did not need good quality papers or a long range of pencils or high grade colours. Sun melted wax crayons and little stubs of pencils would form my childish masterpieces. I did not even require to take out time for it. I had school to go to and homework to finish, but I would make two, maybe three drawings a day, without any time constraints. I would be asked to draw something sensible, to draw something different because I would repeatedly draw that which grabbed my attention. Fairies, butterflies, my school Principal and his wife, a chocolate world, gods and goddesses, robbers and ugly portraits of little girls emerged when the nib of my pencil touched the paper.

Then, when I got my first water-colour case, I spent hours learning how to colour. I filled all my magazines and then skipped to colouring books. I did not buy story-books then; that was my mother’s job. Book stores, for me, were the places from where I could get my Barbie colouring books. I was reprimanded for buying so many of them but I bought them nonetheless. It was my hard earned money- obtained with difficulty from visitors and guests- and I had full rights to use it as I wanted.

I used to be praised for my drawing : all of them were loving lies from my family. But it did not matter much whether they liked them or not. What mattered was whether I liked them. That was more than 6 years ago. I had decided as far back that I wanted to be a painter. I was teased for not being ambitious in school. I could possibly not want to paint walls when I finished school. So I found another, more fashionable term for my passion: an artist. Whatever you call it, I wanted to be just that. I had imagined going to art school, then holding exhibitions and then selling my paintings for crores (now who dares say that I was not ambitious?)

But that has changed now. I have been drawing less frequently, sometimes not for days at end. I blame it on the lack of time but I can take out time for reading and writing and going out to play, but not to draw. That has got to do a lot with my inhibitions. I draw only those things which I am confident about. The things which will come out nice, which can be shown to everyone. I pine for praises . I am afraid of recieving criticism, of not being good enough. I curse myself and my so-called ability to draw whenever I fail at portraying my subject the way it is. I compare myself with others and get dejected. I can never compete with them. Any drawing which is better than myself just reminds me that I am nowhere; I am an inconsequential person.

I had decided way back that drawing is not my thing. That was not because of all my insecurities: I had found thay my talent and interest lay somewhere else. But I could still have retained that one passion of mine even if I had no intentions of chiseling it. Now I have the materials I need and even an overenthusiastic tutor, but my will to draw recedes with each failure. It is not that I have grown to dislike my drawings. I still am fond of them but with each level I cross, the weight of expectations on my shoulders increases. I draw not only to please myself but others at the same time. I strive for perfection. I try to make the drawing as beautiful as possible so that I can proudly showcase it. I am asked to go step by step. Learn to draw one thing then head to another. I do appreciate my mentor’s ability and skills and I do want to learn from her but I do not like the compulsion which is characteristic of any learning process. Practicing and honing my ability would not be that bad if I had the choice to learn what I want. To hell with the basics! I don’t consider myself above such (puny!) tasks but I don’t like to draw just what I am told. I can’t skip to human anatomy without learning the basics of drawing, I am told, and I know that very well. I also know that the cartoons and doodles which I have drawn until now may confuse me while learning how things actually are, how they look like in real life. But the fact remains: I don’t want to avoid them altogether. I want to be able to enjoy what I like. I want to create awe-inspiring watercolour paintings while also stick to my meaningless doodles. Drawing was the first thing I was ( and still am) passionate about. It is one of the few things which have interested me. I just have my books, pencils and papers to soothe me, to help me relax, to ward off my boredom, and I do not want to lose a single one of them.

I want to draw whatever comes to my mind and however cringeworthy it may be, I still want to be proud of it. Because these drawings are a part of me. They are just what I am.


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