I don’t remember the first thing I drew or made but I am sure it was rubbish.
The reason I am sure is, a lot of art that I did in subsequent years (and which I very much do remember) was – well, rubbish.
My mum, with her patience wearing thin, struggled to get me to colour ‘within the lines’ – a task that apparently daunted five-year-old me. (I struggled to convince her to buy me a 96 pack of colour pencils which is still a dream today).
After I finally achieved colouring inside the outline, I next struggled with filling up “white spaces” created with my uneven colouring. I began to press the pencil as hard as my little fingers could. This, I discovered , used to prevent the white spaces and made my drawings look “nice n neat” , a quality that my mum thought was alien to me (Personally, I believe it still is). Unfortunately, on Drawing Exam Day in Grade 2, I pressed the pencil so hard that the excessive colour and pressure tore my exam paper. There went my fool-proof strategy.
Almost a year later, during a free period, a classmate started to doodle and draw to pass time. The substitute teacher was so impressed with her drawing that she told her to sign her name and give it to her as a greeting card. I, in a fit of gallantry, decided to please the substitute and give her card too. So I tore out a notebook paper , drew something and handed it to her.
She scrunched up her nose in disgust. I cannot say that I blame her.
In Grade 5 I signed up for a watercolour painting competition. My best friend Krystal sat beside me with nothing to do but watch me as I hurriedly carried out my sorry painting to finish it before the one hour deadline- and as my wet paintbrush REPEATEDLY kept accidentally rolling on the painting, the final product was nothing but smudges of every hue and colour.
Eventually she quietly said, “I wish I had entered too. If you can submit this then I could definitely win”.
And so it went on. You get the picture.
I kept on drawing, crafting, painting. I kept generating poor output. Indeed, if the quality of what I drew, painted, coloured or paper-crafted was any sign of foretelling and if I’d paid heed to it, I probably wouldn’t have continued. But I was already marked as a rotten artist by every way possible so the way I saw it, I had nothing to lose.
I enjoyed whatever I was doing. I continued. I drew, made cards, and soon started crafting with paper.
As I grew, I began to experiment with new ideas. Somewhere along the way, my mother told me that instead of buying cards from Archies and Hallmark I could just get ideas and make them myself. After that there was no stopping me. That was probably the single incident that has made me what I am today. (So thank you Mum!) I began to create and design my own cards. I got ideas from existing cards and added a bit of my own to create a new ensemble. I derived elaborate schemes and cards and pop ups with my own add-ons.
However, as innovative as my ideas were, they were going nowhere without the right implementation. Remember how untidy my colouring was in first grade? I hadn’t improved much in neatness since then.
Once when I was older and vacationing at my grandparents’ house, I decided to make a pop-up card themed with the then ongoing FIFA World Cup for my cousin. Since I was on vacation I didn’t have glue and had to make do with cello tape. It became a little less neat than I would have liked, and a little crooked (little being the vaguely defining word). Oh and I almost forgot, while I was sticking (taping) one side of the card with my nose almost touching the “apparatus” and trying to quickly remove my fingers from under the tape, my nice shiny hair got caught in the cello tape and in the exact moment I pressed it down a strand broke off and got permanently stuck.
My cousin shook his head and refused to take my single hair strand cum football hero card. Looking back, for someone who gets discouraged quite easily, it’s surprising how I stuck to it. The answer is that I had absolutely NO qualms or expectations about myself. When I made cards, right from the time I was a kid, all the way through college, till now there were only two stark reasons I did it.
- I loved to do it.
- I wanted my friends/cousins to have a nice card.
By the time I ended college I was known for my “creativity” (whatever that meant). Untalented duckling story: I now have these pieces under my belt and to my credit.
I often got requests from my friends asking me to show my “ware” (I love Simple Simon!) or to show them how to make stuff. This blog serves as an answer to both. I hope you too enjoy staying here and join me on my ‘craft-journey’.