Our Loose Blogging consortium of Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Gaelikaa, Ginger, Judy, Magpie 11, Maria, Ramana and I, well those of us not on holiday or distracted by the calls of work, study or family concerns, turn our thoughts to the topic for the week, wickedly chosen today by me!
As my granny would say “The only thing I can draw, is a chair across the floor!”
That was no good when I went to secondary school. We had an art class every week. At that stage I never heard of LS Lowry and his Matchstalk men and Matchstalk cats and dogs. I knew how to strike a match, well you needed to do that to light the gas. Any figures I drew had a circle for the head atop an inverted Y and a horizontal line for the arms.
This teacher wanted me to work from an invisible dot or point in the middle of the page?? I had to look at whatever she had chosen that week…. WITH ONE EYE CLOSED…. and the other one squinted!!!! That was hard work. By the time I found the invisible point on the page, I had forgotten what we had been squinting at and which eye was squinting and which one was closed! As sure as god made little apples, I switched eyes every time!
So after a couple of frustrated tear-stained weeks for me, the art teacher gave up and we moved on to using brushes and Poster paints.
Since the month was October, she decided we would all paint a picture of Autumn. This chore task was given to us for homework. Space was needed to spread out art paper, brushes, paints and the dish of water needed to begin this masterpiece. Messy jobs were to be done in the kitchen (Mammy’s law!), but this meant that I had to wait until the dinner was over and the dishes cleared, washed and put away before I could get near the table. We did have a dishwasher back then – ME!
So here I was at last settled at the kitchen table, when mammy comes into the room.
“What are you doing?” asks mammy, only half glancing in my direction.
“I have to put on a wash.” I answer, trying to sound very knowledgeable.
“Right so” says mammy “Run up and get that shirt of your fathers from the end of the bed and you might as well wash my blouse and apron too, while you are at it!”
Eventually after several interruptions my masterpiece was complete…. if you couldn’t see a tree with leaves of green, orange and reddy brown drifting majestically to the ground; you had to be blind or in need of glasses! Pablo Picasso couldn’t do any better. Mammy told me it was lovely and we left it to dry on the table overnight. Alas, the teacher was not so easy to impress the next day. From there on she just about acknowledged me in the class from week to week.
The weeks rolled on and we covered winter, spring and summer. The squiggly tree made regular appearances wearing a different dress each time. When the teacher had enough of my tree she changed tac… We were to produce a picture of heaven! How in all that was good and holy, were we going to do that? Nobody ever came back to tell us what heaven was like!
I never told the teacher that my picture of heaven did not include an art class. Instead I produced a masterpiece of cotton-wool like clouds and stick figures sporting wings dancing on them. I was not alone. Everyone in the room had the same idea. Mind you some of their angels needed a few sessions at weight watchers
We then moved to hell. I said HELL!
Now I had a choice, but it would be difficult to get my ideas on paper. It would involve plenty of squinting and shut-eye. Idea number one was rejected…. I had enough of peeling spuds for half of Ireland without peeling more so I could draw them. It would have to be idea No. 2. There would be no flames of fire or demons with forked tails for me.
We had enough around the dinner table that night to replay the loaves and fishes. When the meal was over and the table cleared, I shooed everyone out of the kitchen and prepared to begin. There were dirty dishes stacked high as mountains everywhere, bundles of cutlery enough for an army and added to this were the pots and pans.
I was going to get this one right first time. The invisible dot was made visible and my pencil was held before my squinting eye at least 100 times. For once in my life the lines landed where I wanted them and the shapes were recognisable. As Ramana would say “My Muse was working for me that night”! Slowly my efforts were beginning to take shape. The kitchen was deathly quiet. Mammy appeared twice to know if the dishes were washed yet. “I am nearly finished” I said “I will wash them in a few minutes”.
Eventually I stood back to look at my work. Smiling to myself and feeling satisfied, I rolled the drawing and put an elastic band around it. There would be no need for paints tonight.
Pushing up my sleeves I donned an apron and began to work on the detritus of the evening meal. I sang to myself as I worked, for once the mountain was not an obstacle. It was still not a problem as I put the last dish away and mammy arrived to start on the supper for the twelve tribes of Cahirciveen. Content that my homework was complete for the evening I set to buttering a couple of loaves of bread to make sandwiches. An intolerance for digesting butter was not sufficient excuse to prevent me from sandwich duty.
The next day, art class could not come quick enough for me. The teacher began to look at the work at the other side of the room. Twenty nine pictures of the fiery flames later and she came to me…
I spread my precious homework across the desk. She smiled.
THE ART TEACHER ACTUALLY SMILED AT MY WORK!
My picture of hell was that kitchen piled high with dirty dishes!