Monday, October 17, 2011

Drawing Jasmine

Princess Jasmine


If I could learn to draw anything, I would learn how to draw jasmine – the smell, not the flower or the Disney Princess. The latter two would be relatively easy if I knew how to draw. But learning to draw a smell! Then I’m over the edge, into uncharted territory, doing the impossible.
The Flower
Yet people do the impossible all the time.
It was impossible for a human to run a four-minute mile until Roger Barrister did it in 1954. Since then that impossible time has dropped by almost 17 seconds. That was a myth, of course, designed to provide a nice, round number for runners to measure against.
It’s aerodynamically impossible for bumblebees to fly, also, yet they do it every day all over the world. This myth was propagated by a biologist to deflate the egos of men in the hard sciences, like aerodynamics. A bumblebee can fly, since its wings are a moving airfoil and not a fixed-wing structure, and it is confirmed with science.
It’s impossible that people would be gullible enough to purchase a common rock as a house pet. In the early 1970s Gary Dahl of Los Gatos, California became a millionaire in a few months by selling pet rocks. These original pet rocks are nearly impossible to find now, and even harder to verify.
Pet Rock
For many people it’s impossible to face the trials and tribulations that accost them during each day of their lives. Yet tomorrow comes, the sun rises, and new troubles rise with it. They survive another impossible day and a new one dawns.
For me, it seems impossible to draw.
I’d like to know how to draw. It takes a lot of work, though. Some people have a knack for it and I’m not one of those people. When my youngest son was small he brought me a picture and asked me to draw it for him. I did the best I could, but when I gave the picture to him, his little two year old face saddened, then he looked at me with pity in his eyes. “You’re not a very good draw-er, are you Daddy?” Those words are etched in my mind and heart.
I spent months after that trying to get better. I had some drawing books, but they did little to help me. I just chose a picture, or John did, and then I’d draw. I didn’t have fancy paper, nor fancy pens and pencils. I used a standard wooden Number 2 pencil and a mechanical pencil with 0.5 mm dark lead. From my years in engineering I had one of those white erasers that work really well. I needed it. I spent most of my time erasing.
Sometimes I drew the picture on a piece of printer paper. Once or twice I drew on a piece of construction paper. Eventually I got smarter and drew in a notebook. I wasn’t that smart, though; it was just a composition book with lined pages.
My favorite thing to draw for a while was a spider. It’s the one John picked for me to start with and I really wanted to get it right. Each spider got a little better.
Snapper
I drew a turtle. That was a lot of fun, since it was from a photo of one that we saw ambling to a small stream on the Ranch. It was my first portrait drawing, I suppose. But the turtle probably doesn’t care.
I drew some fantasy things for John. That was fun, too, since I had a book that gave me step by step. John liked those, and he would sit for hours and draw in his own book. His drawings were really good.
My favorite drawing was a tern in flight. In the photo in the book the tern was white, with a rosy glow from the sunset. It was one of my favorites and I was determined to make it just a beautiful as a pencil sketch. I still remember where I was when I drew it. I had an old library table in the corner of the living room and a small lamp pooled its yellow light on my tablet as my pencil drew two lines and my eraser removed one or both. I sat at that table for hours, a few times long after my wife went to bed. The edge of the notebook crowded me on one side of the picture. I twisted a bit of paper and used the end to smudge parts that needed shadow.
At one point I drew him a small creature that was in the cover of one of his books and I colored this one the same way. It was good enough that Elizabeth wanted her own copy, so I drew her one also. I liked it so much I made a color copy of my drawing for my cubicle (using a copy machine). Serendipity. That's the name of the original.
Original was best, of course

As the Queen in Alice in Wonderland said “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Of course she did! However, seven impossible things would just be – impossible.

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