Have I mentioned that my wife is a natural when it comes to drawing? Well, you could have guessed that if you are a frequent visitor to our blogs. You would hardly miss the scanned image on the top right of every blog article (just like this one), usually of flowers and trees, but sometimes of some docile animals of the feathery kind and aquatic species. She is endowed with a keen sense of proportion and within minutes (sometimes seconds if fewer strokes), she could sketch out a stalk of flower complete with details of the leafy stem, adorned by shapely petals and crowned with a sprouting display of filamentous pistils and anthers (I had to refresh my botanical knowledge by googling “parts of a flower” for these terms.), straight out from her creative mind.
On the other hand, I’m better with patterns, or things of a repetitious nature like a motif. But really, I’m more of a verbal person, in contrast to my wife who is obviously a visual person. Perhaps verbal may not be the right word here as I prefer words to drawing, but more so the written word and conversely, less so the spoken word. Being a visual person that she is, my wife likes to interact with people, face to face, not exactly mano a mano but close. But not public speaking though, which is decidedly one way. I don’t relish that either, unless it’s absolutely necessary like giving a technical presentation or deputized by a superior (while working in Malaysia). I rather prefer asking a question, a probing one, from the floor, and see the speaker stumped. Just kidding.
Who would have thought that I actually went one up on my wife in the eyes of our Arts teacher when she was dishing out the final grade for the Arts class in a certain middle (then termed as lower secondary) school (and yes, my wife and I had been classmates since middle school)? Maybe it’s about time I let out the secret of that lone victory over my then (and still is) more illustrious artist in the family as far as the school Arts subject is concerned.
I’m not sure how Arts examinations are conducted in other places, but from where I come from the teacher would hand out the question, or rather the subject matter to be drawn, one day ahead of the examination. In other words, the students have plenty of time to agonize over the setting, the characters, the scene, the color combination and so on.
I forget the subject matter now (probably something to do with an outdoor event like a picnic or something) but I do remember how my preparation went. Unlike me, my elder brother is very good at drawing (I even recall that he once prepared a cartoon show for us with his hand-drawn cartoon script, you know, those when flipped in successive sheets can simulate motion) and he kept a drawer-load of those drawings. So all I had to do was to go through his creative expressions, pick the one that is closest to the subject matter that I was expected to produce in theme, and commit it to memory. And I do (or rather I did) have an elephant of a memory that had served me well through my pre-college and college days (not the grad schools though for then understanding was the emphasis, not rote learning, a necessary survival technique in the days of examination-centric and result-oriented syndrome back home and back then, which has become more acute if anything).
So while I did the drawing part, the “inspiration” actually came from my brother. It’s no different from memorizing a fact and regurgitating it for the occasion, I rationalized then. Of course I know better now, and have since been following a strict attribution code in all manners of my writing. Why not drawing? Because that was the very last time I took a drawing class in school (I did have technical drawing in college but those were restricted to sectional views of bolts and nuts in the mechanical drawing class in Year 2 and design drawing of columns and beams with dimensioning in the civil engineering class in the final (4th) year).
But I can safely vouch that all the drawings that add that much ambience, balance, and elegance if you will, to our blogs are the creations (I wanted to use original as a qualifier but that would seem redundant) of my wife, every stroke.
And yes, the human portraits. Here they are, a contemporary head shot, followed by a full body shot of a girl dressed in traditional Chinese garb (the pear-shaped face seems to be the universal preference for a girl). Great Job, don’t you agree?