drawing a blank

I can’t draw.  I just can’t.  I remember breaking out in a sweat in 7th grade art class when we were assigned to go home and sketch a kitchen appliance (I chose the humble toaster).  After that and my stunning series of sketches titled, “Waterglass: Three Angles,” I was marginally relieved to move on to the next unit in art class–3-D.

Anyway, having children makes you revisit things you would rather leave alone, and drawing has been one of those things for me.  Oh, I’m not completely useless.  I can sketch a mean Volvo (240 series), and my apple tree is frankly second to none, but I can’t draw the trucks and trains and cement mixers that my son wants.

Enter Ed Emberley.

I remember having an Ed Emberley drawing instruction book when I was a kid, and here I am, 30 years later, poring over the same book, pencil in hand.  The only difference is I have slightly better fine motor skills now though drawing that tow truck after a glass of wine took just about all of the concentration that I had.

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While I enjoy the retro  ’70s feel of the “Trucks and Trains” book that we have (especially the bubbles around his name) and it is definitely helping me draw a steam engine, I can’t help but feel that I am reducing art to a formula for my son.  “This is how you draw a milk truck.  Here is a bird eating a worm.”  There are a thousand different ways to draw a moving van, and I feel like Emberley reduces it to one single way.

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But that, I suppose, is what an instructional book does.  It breaks down a seemingly complicated project into a merry series of rectangles and circles and squiggles.  And while it feels like the creativity has been drained out of the sketching by using a recipe book, I need to remember in my case, there was very little sketching occurring before I sat down with this book and with my son ordering up vehicles short order cook style, I need to kick it up a notch.  Like a loving grandparent, Mr. Emberley has been giving me the confidence I need to branch out in my drawing.  If I can draw a horse using nothing but triangles and rectangles, I can surely draw a lion.  All I need is for my son to slap a gold star at the top of my notebook paper full of sketches, and I’ll have all the encouragement I need to keep up my artistic education.

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1 Comment »

  1. wilomis said

    surfed through and caught your page… keep up the good work.. it all starts with what you have drawn above…

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