A Lesson In Self-Expression (from Hold Your Light) By Wayne Bien
Monday, August 23, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
Rodney learns about self-expression
Besides for the horses my journey for the first ten years of my life was kinda dull, except when I was with my grandfather. He knew so much about stuff and always had time to answer your questions and just talk about anything you wanted. The things we talked about the most were horses and art. See he was an artist and drew lots of pictures of horses and other stuff.
He told me he was really called an illustrator ‘cause he drew pictures that illustrated different company’s products. His biggest client was a bakery. He painted this picture of a little girl that was on their loaves of bread. I had also seen it on billboards and even on the side of buses. Every time they used his painting for something he got paid a bunch of money.
On Wednesday afternoon my grandfather always came over our house and stayed for dinner. I loved my grandfather and Wednesdays were my favorite day of the week.
You see, when I got home from school he would be waiting for me in our den. His favorite place to sit was in the old green cloth chair with wooden handles at the end of the arms. It was a big chair so there was room enough for me to sit on his lap.
Along side of the chair was a table with a lamp that sat on its oval top. There was also a shelf below the top and that’s where my grandfather kept his drawing pad, pencils and picture books. In those books there were drawings of horses or dogs and even a pirate.
After I sat down on his lap he would choose one of the books and draw one of horses or dogs. Then it would be my turn. I tried to copy every line he had made. He would cross it out and tell me to start over. It made me mad at first until I understood he was teaching me to express myself, my ideas, my version of how the lines looked not his. That was the beginning of my creativity and where the pirate comes in to the story.
See after I got pretty good at drawing horses my grandfather turned to the page in the book with the picture of the pirate. It looked hard to me at first and I wanted to go back to drawing horses. But my grandfather smiled at me and started tickling me in the ribs every time I tried to change the page. It was so much fun being with my grandfather!
Anyway, I finally gave in, stopped trying to turn the page and started drawing the pirate. And you know what? I ended up liking to draw him as much as the horses.
Something else happened too. One Wednesday when I sat down to draw and the only book my grandfather had out was a matchbook. But then I noticed the cover. There was a picture of almost the same pirate I had been drawing and the words “DrawMe.” On the inside there was a form to fill out about entering a contest to win free enrollment in this art school.
I didn’t want to do it at first but my grandfather insisted and wouldn’t let me draw anything else until I drew the pirate and filled out the form. So that’s what I did. I really didn’t think it was very good but my grandfather mailed it for me anyway.
About a month later I got this postcard in the mail from the art school. They said they liked my drawing but since I was only ten I was too young to go to their school. Even though I couldn’t go I was so proud of my self ‘cause they said they like my drawing. I kept that card for a very long time; then, I moved away from my parents and the card must have gotten lost or thrown away.
Now there was something else too, my parents didn’t like artist. Even though his father was teaching me my father discouraged me from drawing, he said I should be like my brother and interested in the family business. My mother told me artist were weird people. She said that one-day when we were riding down Mt Royal Avenue and drove past the Maryland Institute College of Art where my grandfather had gone to school. When I saw some of the kids that went there walking on the sidewalk they looked cool. And even though I was still only about ten I knew that’s where I wanted to go to college. When I told my mother, that’s when she said about being weird. It hurt my feelings just like she was calling me that too.
Anyway this beginning of my drawing and stuff didn’t last for long. You see my grandfather had cancer. He never talked about it but I knew something was wrong when he moved in with us after being in the hospital. I guess the doctors didn’t know what else to do and just sent him home to die, which he did in just a couple of months. And then right after he died we moved.
I went to a different school and the art teacher I had was just the opposite of my grandfather. She told me I couldn’t draw the lines the way I saw them. I had to draw them exactly as she thought they should be. I hated her class and never took another art classes in school for a very long time.