when i was young, i harboured fantasies of becoming a fashion designer or some sort of a cartoon artist. as dreams go though, and as phases proceed, that dream faded away and after that i never considered myself an artist in the slightest manner- maybe just someone who doodled for fun or on birthday cards when the situation arose. in fact, i never really did art art after secondary 2 when art lessons were removed from our curriculum, so i wasn’t given many opportunities to draw or play with paint beyond that. besides, drawing wasn’t something i considered myself good enough at or was interested enough in to freely choose to practise it in my spare time.
yet, on my india trip, i was given a sketchbook, and obviously, considering the circumstances i.e. i was travelling with a bunch of architects, i was expected to sketch. i did feel self-conscious definitely, afraid that my amateur reproductions/ interpretations of certain landmarks or patterns would be judged by these artistically superior beings. at first, i even came to a sort of silent consensus with myself that i would use this sketchbook for writing down my thoughts and feelings- probably not what it was intended for, but hey, we all have different modes of expression we are most comfortable with.
but despite my brain’s prior decisions, when i was standing right in front of the places in the moment, absorbing the scenes in their majesty, it just felt so natural to pick up my pen and imitate the beautiful curves and lines, trace the arches and connect the pillars. it wasn’t that words completely eluded me; i did jot down some thoughts as well, but sketching the sight in front of me sort of cemented my experiences and feelings in a different way, as if through my drawing you could understand my personal interpretation of the scene. my own sketches felt intimate to me; silent moments of concentration and commitment trying to produce something. and it was a good feeling… sort of like i was spending time with the place, making acquaintances and bridging connections.
there was one morning after waking up early to catch the sunrise, that i sat atop a sand dune and just sketched the whole view before me. i think i was there about an hour, until the sun was high up in the sky and i was running late for breakfast. it’s a lovely way to be alone and spend time with yourself and your surroundings- that’s what i’ve realised. it was like i brought away a little part of the scene with me and that made me really happy.
what i’ve learnt and am trying to express is that it pays to step outside your comfort zone. the me before india would have scoffed and dismissed the idea of sketching, because i would have dismissed any form of artistic ability i might possess; it’s easier to give up and just not try than to take a leap of faith. i’m still not Picasso’s descendant but my sketches definitely surpassed the lowly expectations i previously had. don’t discount yourself and deprive yourself of experiences just because you don’t want to fail/ embarrass yourself/ believe that you are bad at something. you never know that the you you truly are is bigger than the you you think you are!
they’re not masterpieces but they’re little pieces of my vision, and i’m proud. now i think it would be nice to bring along a sketchbook when i travel, to capture a scene quietly and patiently, stroke by stroke.