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Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Poem Lovely As A . . . .

When I was a senior in high school I had taken all my required courses and so was able to fill my last semester with electives.  Drama, Choir, any "fun" classes like advanced sewing were already a regular part of my academic schedule.  Art was about the only thing left for me to take.  I enrolled for Art 1 and found myself in a class with a lot of freshmen and a few seniors who, like me, were filling class time.  Don't discount freshmen - it was through one of my younger art classmates that I found singing opportunities at the local Baptist church and where I met my future (now present) spouse.

Requirements for this class were not rigorous.  The first thing we had to buy was a sketch pad and a box of crayons.  The Crayola 24 box was the preference although I think some of my classmates scrounged the art boxes of their younger siblings for supplies while others purchased the deluxe box of 120 including a built in crayon sharpener.  Fools they.  The first thing the art teacher did was grab somebody's crayon and snap it in half, explaining that the rough edge was needed for the technique we would be using.  I vowed to keep my brand new box of crayons away from him.

In the early weeks of the semester we were taken outside to draw various trees around the school.  I was surprised by how easily I was able to realistically represent these natural creations with merely a broken crayon and a pad of paper (yes, I succumbed to the theory that the rough edges of the broken crayon allowed one to sketch leaves and branches more realistically).

All that fall I sketched trees; sitting on the front porch to draw the neighbor's beautiful maple in its coral colored splendor, waiting for my younger sister during doctor visits where I was her chauffeur, drawing the trees surrounding the medical center, taking impromptu breaks from class to sketch again the great oak which gave our school its mascot and yearbook title.  I handed in the required number of drawings.  I don't remember the grade.

Later in the semester we experimented with water colors, with oil paints, with pen and ink, choosing subjects appropriate to the medium.  One girl at my table brought in the cigarette lighter from her boyfriend's mid 1960s model Ford Galaxie to draw in a pen and ink rendering.  I tried painting a glass mason jar with water colors, a disappointing failure.

Best of all were the Ivory soap carvings.  We were allowed to carve in relief or in three-D.  I found a photo of a statue in a book and elected to recreate her in Ivory Soap.  As I recall the project was successful.  I wonder if later my sculpture was relegated to the bathroom for a more practical existence.

I once traced the fashion illustrations on a sewing pattern and handed it in.  As I recall I was given a good grade but I always felt guilty about it.  Likely the teacher knew just how I had achieved the drawing and gave me the grade as punishment.  Or not.

These past few weeks, driving to work, I noticed the maples, ashes, lindens and other neighborhood trees turning to rust, gold, orange and scarlet.  I remembered those school days spent outdoors and those other occasions drawing trees.  The annual occurrence of the leaves turning never fails to amaze all that behold its beauty.

Quotable Quotes; in the category That's The One I Want To Draw!

"Life is about using the whole box of crayons."  RuPaul

1 comment:

Fortuna said...

God bless Al Retell. He was a weirdo, but he did a good job of encouraging somebody who felt like a big giant loser (me) and making me feel like I was worth a little time and trouble. And yeah, he taught me to draw nice trees.