“Don’t be nervous okay? Draw like how you do at home. If other participants want to use your colours, don’t say no…” Father advised. I listened to the hum of Father’s vintage TVS Champ and kept nodding. He looked at my reflection on the rear-view mirror. “Are you listening? Will you be all right?” He posed an array of questions to ensure that I was comfortable and confident. I was going to attend my first creative workshop, where I would learn some drawing techniques and simply have fun. He was more excited than me. Mother was as thrilled as Father too. As she handed me a bowl of curd rice and mango pickle (perfect summer breakfast), she told me she was proud of Father for encouraging his daughter to explore. “Don’t be shy to ask questions. I am sure the teacher will be kind,” Mother assured. The workshop was memorable. And, I did share my colours.
I was eight then.
Today, 20 years after my first class, I attended a beautiful workshop called Peace Doodle. Kirthi Jayakumar, my close friend, who inspired me to practise Zen Doodling, conducted the workshop. We learned some interesting Zen Doodling techniques, and we were encouraged to create many pieces in the class.
I found one of the activities particularly moving. I drew a circle and filled one half of it with some Zen Doodle patterns. I was paired up with a young boy, who filled the other half. Quite cutely, he shared his thoughts on my doodle, and I gushed about his work. Kirthi, who knows how I miss my nephew (Shravan), followed our discussion, and told me that the boy reminded her of Shravan. My heart was warmed. Perhaps if Shravan was in India, we would have participated in the workshop together.
I immensely enjoyed the workshop, as Kirthi shared her incurable love for Zen Doodles, and motivated us to unleash our creativity.
When I signed up, Kirthi asked me to think of an idea that I could execute at the workshop. She offered many topics and I chose ‘Animal Welfare’.
This is what I did today:
Every once in a while, I slip into denial; I struggle to believe that I have mustered the courage to wield ink-pens. But, I remind myself that Gaiman asked us to make “good” art. 😉
“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.
Make it on the good days too.”
And, that boy, who filled the other half of the circle I had drawn, gave me a little souvenir today. I told him that I loved the skeleton that he had done. “If this kind of skeleton bursts out from my closet, I would laugh at it and have a little chat with it. It is that cute,” I told him. He took a picture of it and handed the paper to me. “You like the skeleton right? You keep it,” he said. He didn’t smile; he said it like that paper was my report card and that he was not happy with my performance. Of course, I might have been asked to bring my parents too. 😉
In retrospect, I realise that he said it in a matter-of-fact tone. It was his way of saying that the skeleton with a heart for a nose belonged only to me.