I was eight, when I participated in my first painting competition. It was conducted in a park on a sultry, summer evening. I wore one of my favourite cotton dresses, carried my water-colours, fancy brushes in a rucksack, and held my sister’s hands, as she walked me to the park.
It was filled with hundreds of children. We all sat on the grass, and let our imagination flow. We were asked to draw the park itself. Like every eight-year-old, I drew all the cliches — green-green grass, blue-blue sky, orange-orange sun, black-black birds, a seesaw that carried a lean boy on one side, and a chubby girl on the other, and a playground slide with no sharp edges.
In about 30 minutes, my ‘artwork’ was ready. I held it at a distance, and surveyed it. I was satisfied. But, the restless child in me was not patient enough to wait for the results. The very idea of painting for a prize seemed absurd. I worked on it because I enjoyed working it.
I wrote my name carelessly on the chart, and handed it to a volunteer, who asked us to wait for a while. After the longest 15-minutes of my life, the result was announced. A popular cartoonist held my chart above his head, and hollered that I had won the first prize. I was flabbergasted. I was almost in denial. My sister chanted my name over and over again, broke my reverie, and I trotted to the dais shyly to collect my reward.
I continued painting for seven years, before the enthusiasm could vanish like the rabbit in a magician’s hat. Poof!
A week ago, it dawned on me that life had played a trick. Just like a magician. The rabbit didn’t vanish. It’s still here, but it’s malnourished. I finally heard its cry for help. And, I took a brave stab to rescue it — I began zen-doodling.
One of my close friends inspired me to wield ink-pens, and I mustered the courage to draw, ink, and publish my doodles. 🙂 Zen-doodling is superbly addictive, fun, and therapeutic. Besides the obvious positive effects it has on me, zen-doodling gives me a sense of accomplishment. Just like writing, it gives me a little souvenir every time. The artworks are undoubtedly flawed. But, beneath those imperfect doodles lie a few perfect moments. And, that makes me grateful.
Just when I started to practise zen-doodling like an over-enthusiastic child, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, which sealed my love for all things creative. So, for the nonce, I am addicted to doodling. I will not be surprised if something else arrests my attention soon, and I will not complain so long as my rabbit is nourished.
The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.
— Kurt Vonnegut
My doodles are here. 🙂