Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Engineering drawing and the death of an artist...

I was small, and could scrawl on paper with crayons.
And then, that was what I did best.

Not all my 'drawings' had meanings, but mostly, they'd come out as something very close to what was intended. There was this competition where I drew lots of kids flying kites, but forgot to connect the kids and the kites and the judges just thought that it was all kids playing under streetlights.

And then the time when the organizers presented an 8 year old me with an irresistibly large sheet of paper and told that I could draw anything I pleased. Out came mountains and rivers and police jeeps and houses and huts and stickmen and sunrises and of course, the inevitable "V" shaped birds.

There were children older than me, drawing some very pretty things, but then who was interested? I was engrossed in filling up the whole huge sheet, and was successful in that too. Of course, some buses took the aerial route, and some airplanes had to be grounded, but yes, finally every inch was covered and I was content. And then came the big surprise...

It was the last day of 4th standard exams, and all were excited. (I mean, then exams didn't matter much. We were making robots with the needles and erasers and rubber bands.

Just as the bell rang, in walked Chitra miss, our class teacher and HeadMistress(no, she is not the type a school guy has a crush on; she had slightly protruded teeth, was dark and wore huge glasses. In order to fall into the other category, she should have been fairer, a bit roundish-faced without specks and soft and warm).

She clutched a HUGE dictionary (now I realize that it had only 1500 odd pages) and a blue certificate. I was sitting on the last bench (by virtue of roll number, and not the grades, mind you!!) and was about to rush out of the class, when she shrieked on top of her voice "Class, don't leave until I tell you". Not even Hitler's men would have obeyed an order with such attention.
"Madhavan, come here!!", she barked.
"Uh oh, this is trouble."
""Children, Madhavan here, has won the first prize in drawing, at a state level!! This is the dictionary he won, and the certificate"
And then she held up the dictionary like Mufassa held up Simba, and my face was beet red. Fortunately, they did not send the drawing with the prize, and no one, except the judges had seen it. FORTUNATELY!!

And then she took me by arm, intent upon parading me in front of all the classes. Just imagine the scene. The bell has gone off, and the children are pouring (?) out, and here we were, walking against the tide, she, clutching a big bad book in one hand, and towing me along with the other, and me, wild eyed and not in the least understanding what was happening. (I had to take my parents to the school the next day to get hold of the dictionary - she told it was because she wanted to proudly present it to them; but I suspect its because she suspected it might be too heavy for me to carry home, and that I might dump it in one of those hundred dirt canals.).
Hmmmmmmm...

Then it was a short dabble with water colors, some of them looking so abstract that Picasso would have bought it at Christie's. And I also got to know that if you don’t mix the colors and the water properly, the tree you intended to masterfully draw, will turn out into a green ice-candy stick.

Then the "people-craze" set in. I'd draw hundreds of faces, all round eyed and stick-mushed. I loved cartoons and tried to start my own cartoon strip starring a dog (it was always lying down because that's the only way I knew how to draw a dog), a Police inspector and a Police constable, both of whom were single-dimensioned. It was met with moderate success - my dad and my mom glanced at it and smiled, ruffling my hair (Now I know what that meant!!).

And finally came the engineering college. The first Engineering Drawing (ED) class started with us trying to learn how to fix a monster called MINI-DRAFTER to a drawing board, and how to align things. Now, structured drawings had never been my forte and alignments just baffled me. But Thomas sir's sarcastic comments and Vijaykumar sir's smacks on the back of the head taught me not to try cartooning on ED classes. This was serious stuff, drawing "Erythromegalomainiacalomistic" projections of a "triangulohorizontalate" prism on a white sheet. But then, I can't say I didn't get practice , what with my drawings and plenty for my seniors too. (Yes, a sad truth of ragging is that I became pretty good at ED). I got good at that gradually, much to my distaste, because that meant that the seniors would choose me to do their assignments. But then slowly and very very painfully ED took its toll. My Police inspector, the constable and the dog, all died at their cartoonistic infancy, because of their creator's ability to sketch circles and triangles and squares and the ability to make them look as part of a machine. Hence died the great cartoonist.

Now only my keyboard is a victim of sketches, with umpteen faces and flowers and mountains, and sunrises and police jeeps and huts and of course, the birds criss-crossing it...

5 comments:

Anoop said...

Do you not think that the title is bit too harsh? I know we use it in the literal sense, but I would think the word talks about creativity and imagination more than anything else..across different scales and platforms, and I'm sure there is plenty more where that came from, eh?

Madhavan said...

ummm...i guess u're right...maybe, it should've been engineering college, and the ...
or maybe it did nurture my creativity more than anything else...hmmm...lets me c...

anoop said...

you got me wrong..I was talking about the phrase "death of an artist", "artist" is the word I was talking about. Essentially I was saying it doesn't just mean painting /drawing...get it? Haha, talk about misinterpreation. Come on, man.. I wouldn't call ED creative..not with vijay, thomas and whatstheotherguysname teaching us!

Madhavan said...

hahaha...yea, but hey engineering is an art oo i guess, aint it? but not the way we were taught though..

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