Tag Archives: Bali

On Drawing and Joylessly Drawing

Monster

I started drawing at a very young age. Drawing was probably the only thing I was good at when I was young. I wasn’t particularly smart or athletic. I remember my father speculating that drawing is probably the reason why my handwriting was so poor. That was something I would keep on hearing many more years later. Growing up with three sister and not many boys my age around my neighborhood, I tended to entertain myself by playing G.I. Joes, video games, or drawing. I loved drawing. I would draw anything. I even remember copying illustrations from encyclopedias as practice. Later on, in elementary through high school, I got heavily interested in comic books. If you look at the back of my notebooks, they would all be filled with super hero illustrations. I thought I could be a comic book illustrator someday. Whenever the opportunity came, I participated in art contests. They were good experiences even when I didn’t win. They taught me at a young age how to work on specific themes and that art, at least art that pays, is often creating what others want you to make, and not what you want to do.

I didn’t attend art classes until I was grade nine. By that time, not to brag, I was already more skilled than the kids in my class. I was not sure if I learned any skills in high school art classes except for how to mat and frame works. The thing that I value most is learning about art history. My teacher tried to wean us from drawing cartoons and teach us about composition and learn about the masters in art history. It worked. I stopped trying to become a comic book illustrator and no longer drew heroes for my friends to hang on their walls. I was more interested in high art. I remember learning about Chiaroscuro and selling my first piece on canvas to one of my English teachers. It was a poor imitation to Chiaroscuro’s style depicting the piercing of Christ’s side. I think I sold it for $80 Canadian.

It was during high school when I first started developing my small drawing style. Oddly enough, my first piece done this way was made for an English project. I remember it was made mostly of lines and scenes from Hamlet, culminating in the death of Ophelia, the prince’s most innocent victim. I continued drawing with the same drawing style throughout university. There were times when I tried to move away from small drawings, venturing into sculpture and even making gigantic drawings, some measuring around 15 or 20 meters wide. But I kept coming back to the small drawings. I was encouraged mostly by my thesis professor, who despite me saying I was growing desperately bored of being hunched over drawing and writing small words, he told me that it was quite unique to hear of an artist being bored and yet unable to stop drawing. I have to continue making small drawings until my eyes fail me.

That was many years ago. I still haven’t stopped. Vision is still 20/20.

These days, I draw for the sake of drawing. I draw because I have to. I draw to whisper secrets onto the paper and in doing so momentarily free my mind from their burdens. I regret that I didn’t follow through on being a comic book illustrator. I regret that I didn’t explore how to become an illustrator for encyclopedias. Now and then, I regret missing out on learning how to tattoo and developing my own style of body art. I regret not working on being a commercial artist. But then again, maybe that would further discourage me from making art. Work sometimes takes the joy out of something you would do for free.

I don’t draw to make money. If some of my works sell, then it’s a blessing, but I don’t draw to sell my works. My images are not putting food on my table. I draw to show my works if the opportunity arises, but creating shows or making works to sell at shows are not my motivation. If it were, then maybe I’d be selling more works. I draw because I have to; it is a need. I do appreciate the little audience I have and am grateful to those who enjoy and have purchased my works. Even if people don’t buy them. Even if people just stop and stare for a second at a piece hanging on a wall. I am truly grateful for their time. I have no illusion that I will be a famous artist someday. That is why I appreciate the people who stop and enjoy my art when I know there are far better artists that they could (and should) be looking at.

So what is the point of all of this? The point is, drawing and making art doesn’t have to have a distinct purpose. You don’t need to make art to sell or to show people or to do whatever. You could just be making art just because you want to or need to. That is not particularly insightful and I know I’m not the first person to say that, but I think it is particularly true in my case. There are times when I am totally sick and bored of making art. I am left uninspired. But this need, this itch, this monkey on my back keeps me making more images. It pushes me to make something even when it is ugly as sin.

Sometimes people make art for no reason. They just enjoy it.

Sometimes people make art for no reason, even when they don’t enjoy it. They just have to.

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Love and Burger King

Demon

Yesterday, I was sitting at a Burger King. The Burger King and the MacDonald’s near my workplace are hangouts for the elderly. The neighborhood is quite old, and it’s a known hangout for senior citizens who wander about doing who knows what. The two burger joints are quite popular among the seniors because they serve cheap coffee and cheap sundae, especially in contrast with the other coffee shops around the area. So when people go to Burger King, they’ll often see old people talking business with either one cup of coffee or a sundae each.

Anyway, right next to me was this couple. I would guess they’re in their sixties. He’s dressed in a suit, while she is dressed like she’s going to go hiking somewhere. She even has a backpack with what appears to be cut vegetables in a Ziploc bag sticking out of one of the pockets. I normally wouldn’t pay too close attention to other customers but this couple was quite unusual. They were really quite heavy with the PDA. They’re touching each other’s hands and giving each other light kisses, getting all giggly and such. I really don’t mind all of this, but I find it quite odd that an older couple would be acting like teenagers even after from what I initially assumed was a long relationship. They seem more passionate about each other than I am with my wife at any stage of our relationship. They’re definitely more carefree about it, especially in a country where PDA is still a bit rare, especially among older generations. But I guess that couple was lucky. It truly must be a beautiful thing to be in-love at that age, to feel young, and carefree, and to barely contain yourself in order to be close to that other person.

Love is beautiful.

But then I started to be more cynical about it.

Are they really a couple? Maybe they just started dating at an older age. Maybe they’re a couple of divorcees. Or maybe they’re cheating on their respective spouses. That would explain their carefree passion as well as the mismatched clothes. After all, do couples really walk out the door with one wearing a suit and the other ready to climb a mountain? What were they doing in Burger King? Most of the senior citizens I see in either burger joints are men. I rarely see anyone taking a date in a Burger King, especially someone older. Yeah, something’s not right. Those two are up to no good. They’re spouses are probably somewhere else, working or at home or something. “Yes, honey, I’m off to go hiking with my friends! See you tonight!” “Later, I’m off to work! See you tonight.” There are too many red flags to say that they’re all innocent and are just being romantic on a Burger King in the afternoon. Someone is getting screwed somewhere. The world is beautiful and there is much joy to be found, especially through innocent eyes. But sometimes, it’s just impossible to do. I’ve lived too long and seen too many ugly things not to notice when something is off.

Love is beautiful. But that wasn’t love. That was something else entirely.

I finish my meal and went back to work.

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