Saturday, April 4, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: Colored Pencils, and Comfort Zones

During April, I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z challenge -- one alphabet-themed post per day, starting with A is for Aruba Aftermath and ending with Z is for ... I don't know yet what Z is for, I'll figure it out when I get there.

(Image from here)
I was chatting with friends who are in the waning days of their land life, getting ready to set sail.  They told me that they had been given one interesting piece of advice: not to buy their 12-year-old son a camera for the trip. Well, that seemed counterintuitive.  The trip of a lifetime!

My friends were advised instead to get their son a range of art supplies to capture his memories.  Drawing or painting a scene, they said, makes you really look at it, interact with it, and focus on what makes it special to you.  I see their point; with cellphone cameras getting better and better, everyone has a decent camera with them all the time.  And all those people seem to be not so much experiencing events, but recording them to experience later.

I know there have been events that I remember only as the little square I see through the camera lens, not the whole big world of my surroundings.  And then afterward, I have a mass of photos to sort through and discover that no single one of them really conveys the vibe I actually felt.  But recording my memories by drawing?  I haven't tried to draw anything since I outgrew crayons. I have a 35-year career in science and science writing; I'm used to communicating my ideas in words.  The creative side of my brain is probably seriously atrophied.  Photos weren't always working, and so I wonder if I also should ... could ... do that art thing?

Let me give you a hint about where I'm coming from.  I have no skill at all for drawing.  Zip, zilch, nada, zero.   Never did.  As a kid, I drew my people as geometric stick figures, circles for heads, rectangles for arms and legs, triangles for dresses.  The girls all had long fine straight blonde or red hair blowing in the breeze.  That was easy to understand, I was drawing the hair I wished I had, instead of the short brown curls I did have.  I also, however, drew those stick children without hands, which caused considerable consternation in child-psychology circles.  Presumably they worried that my pictures implied I thought I was powerless to control my environment.  Not everything has deep hidden meaning, though, I just found it too difficult to draw hands, so, impatient and practical child that I was, I blew it off.  You could still figure out what the picture was all about, yes?

Remember my New Year's resolution to have more adventures?  Not all adventures have to be big dramatic voyages or daring feats, sometimes they are just a case of pushing your comfort zone. I never totally got with the expression "comfort zone," actually.  To me, that image is more of a "confining zone."  So I'm stretching.  I've got a box of colored pencils and a pad of paper, and I signed up for an art course.  Take that, boundaries!


  1. I'm excited to see where your adventures in art take you . . . I hope you share them with us here! You make a good point that not all adventures have to be great ones, or daring, sometimes the biggest ones are right in front of us! Can't wait to see what you create!

  2. Yay for you! I took a few painting classes back when we were in NZ. It was so much fun, especially once I got past not feeling like I have any natural talent. You will have a blast!

  3. Thanx Everyday and Ellen! **I** can't wait to see what I create either! While the class doesn't start until next month, I'm beginning to play around already. The illustration for the "Dragon Tales" post is mine: