Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Drawing Into the Well

Mood: hung-drawn-quartered-like
[Toot!] Index: 1.1
Communism Bit: Off
Location: Job, of course

You know, when I was a kid, I used to draw lots. Wrestlers on TV, especially. That was before I had gone to boarding school. The wrestlers were as my young eyes saw them on TV. There was some guy, name of Michael Hayes, if memory serves, and he was a star in my drawing book. They looked a lot like this.
I know, because I drew them over and over and over. My Ma quipped about how my men are always ready for a fight. I was under seven years old.
Today, if I drew a wrestler, he wouldn't be a muscle-bound, hormone-engorged minotaur. Not at all. This is what I drew, a few minutes ago, to be my wrestler.

Notice the shift from whatever that bag of testosterone was, to a lean, mean fighting machine. But it is really a reaction of my mind that I've noticed since late puberty. I draw almost exclusively nude humans (even the pants of my boyhood, they done flown off). Usually, I draw women. When I do men, they face away from me. Coward, yes. (I hate the shameless competition they tend to ... express? I'm my drawings' god, for crying out loud!) Usually, they are thin men, sometimes very, very thin. Nearly as thin as I am. When they are women, they are round and heavy. ;o)

After the wrestlers, when I was about eight years old, I fell in love with my teacher. She was my English teacher, and a wondrous miracle of feminine beauty. Of course, at eight, I didn't know I had fallen in love, you see. I just thought I wanted to be with her all the time, and to make her happy. Full stop. Anyway, I walked up to her, one day, after classes, and told her I wanted to draw her. You know, that was the year the coronation of the Kabaka of Buganda had happened. There used to be lots of pictures of the Kabaka in regalia, in the papers. So I took one and drew it. A teacher discovered it and paid me two hundred—count 'em, two hundred—Uganda shillings for it. It was the first work I sold, and the first money I earned. (It was also the last work I sold.)
So, I learnt that I could draw to good benefit. And I wanted to make my English teacher happy, so I told her I wanted to draw her like I had done the Kabaka.

(That drawing of the Kabaka stayed in the staff room of Budo Junior School for years and years and a day.)

I drew the teacher, and she liked it. I coloured her dress, fussing over the depth of pink here and the amount of blue there.
But wait. Where is this leading? Yes, to why I don't draw anymore. Let's jump, shall we? You people told me my posts are too long for you.

When I draw (or even write) in a book, I start at the back and work to the front. I don't know why. (Even my written cipher code is written from right to left, naturally.[1]) So, once I had these many books covered in pictures of nudes and stuff. Sometimes I draw rocks, sometimes landscapes, all of them in that shoddy me-no-give-no-fuck way. This pile of books was discovered by some guy and he said I was sub-consciously gay because of all the male nudes that shared the space. "The simmering homo-erotic undertones, the taut tension on the page, as though they are about to break loose and [...] the unabashed self-expression of the you bottled up within you", blah, blah, blah, you know. I told him he was wrong, and that collection went to the fire. I don't care if he was wrong or not, anyway. I just stopped drawing on paper that time. I guess I'll start again. But in came digital art. You see, I stopped drawing almost completely, and moved my feeble artistic impulses to code. It doesn't suffice, at the moment, so (on occasion) I will draw on the computer.

Already, this blog has seen some stuff I've drawn. My current Blogger avatar is one, and some other blogger's old WordPress avatar. And a few posts have had some drawings in them. Network Dependency, RT 1.6, and others.

They are almost always with black as the dominant colour. I first drew on the computer with Paintbrush. I was on a black-and-white Epson laptop that ran Windows 3.1, and I was in genuine shock when my Dad told me there was a coloured computer at his workplace. This laptop is where I first drew on the computer. The mouse is harder to command than a pen or pencil, so drawings on the computer, for me, don't obsess over straightness of lines. I don't use line facilities to draw the lines. I basically just draw with the mouse. I've done a self-portrait in the same way. :o) (It came out ridiculously ugly, and the first thing my sister said, on seeing it, was "Wow, you drew a self-portrait on the computer!" We quarreled.)
This picture (not a self-portrait) is from RT 1.4. I don't remember my reason for drawing it.

I drew some more very recently. See this one, which is a drawn copy of the aluminium tumbler I have to my left. I call it Coupe. :o)

But this series started off with Menton, which means "chin". You see, I can't draw thin lips. Either it is subconscious narcissism, or it is just that I can't express thin lips in monochrome. Or I've never tried.

Next in the drawings series, we have Main-en-Main, which is "Hand-in-Hand". I'll spare you the explanation for it. :o)

Next is Handseses, which must be the correct pluralisation for the hand that appears here.

And then Feetseses. Like the hand above, the foot is loosely based on mine. I said loosely. Sheesh.

You know, I've always found the space directly under a table to be mystical, in a weird way. As though, you know, nothing stays there. When I was a kid, growing up in a sufficiently over-crowded house, that looked like a lot of useful real estate going to waste. That, I believe, is where my fixation with the space under tables came from. And that was even before I discovered tables that were fully draped. You know, with the table cloth flowing off on the side, enclosing the space under the table. And then I learnt about footsie, and that space took on a new, fresh, tantalising erotic aura. In Sous La Table, the cleaner checks under the table. What she finds is up to the beholder. :o)

These days, I use the GIMP mostly. (Not always.)
These days, I don't draw many human shapes, at least not without zooming in, because the lack of precision deems that largely a slow, wasteful endeavour. I draw general sketches, and they are more about what is around the character, rather than the character. The character is not very precise in appearance, but his or her state can be picked out.
Here are two from the series, which are rather grim. They fit the profile of thin male nude with frontal nudity obscured.

Piqué, which means "pricked" or "impaled", is one of those grim ones. It's this guy who has a very long spear stuck in his chest. I like the fact that he is on the ground, with both hands on the spear. As in, he must die. The length of the spear and how far it has run into him is in itself a good indicator of how certain his death is. And then the powerless drooping of the head, as life ebbs out of him. The fluid escaping from under him means he is either bleeding to death, or the trauma made him incontinent. They are all sure signs of a near death.
Now, why do I like the picture so grim, especially after spitting at Bukedde for not censoring its gore? Because I witnessed it.

In a previous life, about seven hundred years ago, I was where modern Rwanda is, and I joined a cult (whose members grew their hair into dreadlocks). We were mainly against the colonial droves of the cattle herders who were descending from the north and imposing on us a caste system, where we were the dalits. In one of the wars against them, my friends were killed, one by one. Speared to death. That life, for me, ended in the same battle, but not before I had seen my friend die like that, as depicted in the picture.

And the last one in the series, Strange Fruit. You probably know the Billie Holiday song, but all I got from it is the title. The theme is a little different. Unlike Piqué, this one is drawn from this life. I still find it hard to forget the scream of the neighbour, and how she later showed up at our door—I was like ten years old—pushing her three kids before her like captives. She told my Ma to keep them there, and give them breakfast. It was years later that I learnt about how their father had taken his own life. And with such fashion, such class, such style. Actually, it was far from funny. He had slipped out, feigning to go and ease his bladder, so the rumour says, and the wife, wondering why he had stuck in the toilet for so fucking long, went out to check on him. She found him outside, nude, suspended from a tree, with a short cord, and dead as yesterday. Grim.

Now, to restore your faith in me before you run away. I drew this maybe like two or three years ago. It was supposed to be a self-portrait, but it came out non-right. I drew it in Microsoft Paint. I even obsessed over the colours. Ah, the days when I had time! :o)
When I am retired and rich, I'll be drawing a lot and burning my drawings at an altar above which will hover some Gottfried Helnwein works, among others, worth trillions of scrillions of shillings, that my dealers and salaried thieves will have pulled out of museums and auctions.
[1] It's Salman Rushdie who said "right to left, naturally" in, I believe, Shame.


Tandra said...

man, u draw good

gayuganda said...

Ok, I didnt read all of it. But I did see all the pics.

Me, i draw for toilet paper. Strictly that. Do you like Orokie's drawings? That is, if you get past the nudity?

The 27th Comrade said...

@Tandra: Thanks. :o)

@GUG: The pics are hard to miss, as it were ... :o)
Well, you know I think Afriboy is good. I just find that his paintings are focussed too much on a subject that I have only very little and fleeting interest in. But he is a gifted painter, that Afriboy. :o)
Oh, and there is something in that stuff you didn't read, where someone said I'm like Afriboy.
You notice there was enough "nudity" in my drawings, didn't you? :o)

Salam Taki said...

I have a feeling the last pick looks like a communist! What do you think?

Salam Taki said...

Ah! the title, the content. What has the title got to do with what I read? Oh, could it be as in elephant man pun the river, pun the bank?

You drew into the well and what, returned with water from a river bank? That was artistic.

petesmama said...

I like the pictures. And I like the nudity.

Mudamuli Ntikita Ntikita said...

I remember a teacher called Ms Namboze at Budo Junior. A P.1 pupil said he would marry her when he grew up. I heard the story from my Mom.

What talent you have! The one you drew when you were a kid intrigues me most because of the muscles. Interesting!

I actually read the whole post.

31337 said...

i should go back to drawing and painting. brb.

DeTamble said...

Computers came in black and white?

Actually I thought that picture was a self portrait. Since you are ridiculously ugly


Alright, alright, you caught me, I was just trying to be mean because I think you're cute and I didn't want you to know *sigh*

You called the tumbler Coupe or you called the drawing Coupe? I have an avocado, his name is Fred :D My $10 note is also called Fred :D

Main-en-Main: I'm pretty sure that white hand should be smaller than the black hand.

"Handseses" - myyy precious!! He has our ring he has!! Fats hobbitssesssss!!!

I used to read Dracula under the table *licks blood red lips*

I can't draw people. I draw though, lots, I draw birds. By hand. Ink. Blue, generally.

antipop said...

nice art.
u can draw using computer?
what? my computer just has microsoft word, yahoomail, gmail, solitaire and blogspot. where is that genius computer you describe?

The 27th Comrade said...

@Salam Taki: 'Pun de river, 'pun de bank. :o)

@Pmama: Thanks.

@MNN: I may have been that kid, actually. I long for the days when I just loved, and loved hard. :o|

@DeTamble: Nice Gollum reference, there. ;o) I love it. I draw birds, but they seem to have fallen out of favour with my hand, of late. Some time, they were all I drew. :o)

Mudamuli Ntikita Ntikita said...

So you are the one! Actually I heard the story from Peace who heard it from her Mom who was amused by it.

Princess said...

You're good!
The talent! 'Emama!' :D