Birth and Death of a Stick Artist

The last time I took an art class was in grade school, probably when I was about 13. Subsequently I became your stereotypical non-artist whose technique for drawing consisted of a few straight lines and a couple of circles. Dog? Five straight lines for the skeleton (one for the spine, four for the legs), one circle for the head. Human being? About the same. Women were different from men because they had two squiggles for hair. If I tried very hard, this is what I would be able to do:



The fowl below (I suspect it's a chicken) is my absolute best drawing from my early period, covering the years 1958-2006.

chicken.jpgDrawing, painting, and sculpting were outside my domain, by a law of nature that said, “At the maternity your momma pressed a button by the side of her bed, and she chose to make you a stick artist instead of a Rembrandt. Yes, sweet little Pedro, you’re a stick artist if there ever was one. You’ll grow up a stick artist and you’ll die a stick artist. Tough nuggets.”

My momma’s button notwithstanding, like all stick artists I suffered from a severe misconception. I can’t speak Swahili—that’s a fact. I can’t pilot an airplane—that’s also a fact. I can’t draw—well, that’s a perception, not a fact. The problem is, when the wind blows just so perceptions become convictions, and convictions become realities. For roughly 35 years (that is, following my last art class in 8th grade) I didn’t draw because I couldn’t, and I couldn’t because I didn’t. “I don’t draw, you understand? I can’t! Look at my stick figures—they demonstrate I can’t draw!”

I owe the unraveling of my stick-artist identity to three people. One definitely doesn’t exist. Another has been dead for seventy years. And the third one—well, it’s hard to explain. In the next Naked Beginner installment, I’ll tell you about the inexistent one.