Sunday, May 20, 2018

Reminiscing: One of My Early Hobbies

I used to like to draw. I drew a lot. I have several sketchbooks filled with half-finished drawings and some completed ones. My mother tells me a story from when I was in nursery school where the class made autumn trees using our hands as a guide. Apparently, the teacher said I took my time, and mine actually looked like a tree. In my classes at high school, I still liked to draw, but some of the extraordinarily talented people around me had far more drawing ability than I did.

"So Long Cold, Hello Daytona" by David Mann
When I was eleven or twelve, the neighbor built a toy box for his kids. When he finished it, he didn’t paint it. Instead, he walked over and asked if I would like to draw some cartoon characters on it. At that time, the cartoon characters I liked to draw were the Smurfs and anything from Hanna-Barbera, especially Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear. I spent a couple of weekends on the front porch of their house drawing characters and scenes all over the toy box.

 I have no idea what happened to that toy box. They moved away shortly afterwards. Additionally, they didn’t have me color any of the drawings. His kids would get to color the toy box as part of the fun and games with it. I think I got paid $20 for my efforts. To me, that was a lot of money to do something I loved to do.

Craig's version
I used to like to try to recreate the David Mann drawings in the Easyriders magazine. Of course, I was only twelve or thirteen, so I couldn’t actually have that magazine. There were a lot of topless women in it. I could only have the drawings. I would spend hours, even days, recreating some of those great paintings. When there were parts that I couldn’t replicate, I changed it enough that it still looked good, but had my own stamp on it. I have no idea how Mann would take that, or if he’d even appreciate a kid was trying to emulate him.

One of my favorite David Mann works was “So Long Cold, Hello Daytona.” In this painting, a man and a woman are riding a motorcycle. The woman is wearing a winter hat and has her hands raised, sitting on the back of the bike. Behind the motorcycle, the scenery is of a northern winter. In front of the bike, the sea and palm trees await them. I loved that drawing. At one point, after I finished my version, my parents were considering having me draw and paint that on the side of their motorcycle trailer or the garage.

A couple of weeks ago, I was going through my box of old writings. I had journals in there that I haven’t seen in over twenty years. Leafing through them, most of the content is writing. I wrote little snippets of things all the time. In all the margins, though, are doodles. One of the drawings I found was of my dad. Originally, it was from the newspaper when our motorcycle group donated a series of books to the Middleport library in memory of one of our fellow riders. I must have seen the picture in the paper and simply doodled it in the margin. I showed Wendy and she knew immediately it was my dad.

I don’t draw much anymore. I would rather write. On the days that I do decide to do a little artwork, it’s fairly obvious that those skills, while never vanishing completely, need regular exercise to stay in shape. I’m not nearly as good as I used to be. One of my daughters can draw really well. She’s very artistic. I hope she continues to hone her skills. The time needed to get back into that habit is probably more than I can spend right now. I’d like to, but writing seems to be more of my thing now.

I’m friends on Facebook with the father who hired me to draw on the toy box. I think I might send a message to him to see if he remembers what happened to it. It’s been over thirty years, so I’m sure it’s long gone. But I bet his kids had a great time decorating my work with their palette of colors and ideas. Probably long before they outgrew it, they totally covered over those drawings. I wish now that I had taken a picture of it when I finished.

Maybe someday I’ll get back to artwork. For now, I’m happy with writing. I have a lot of plans for my writing. One of my biggest writing projects is finally almost done, and that’s a huge relief. I have plans for other books, too. So it appears that drawing and painting will really just be something I used to do. It’s interesting how our hobbies change over time and with different events in life. Thirty years ago, I would have told you I wanted to be a cartoonist. Today, while I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, I am confident it will include writing.

Craig Bacon thinks maybe he should learn Egyptian hieroglyphics. That way he can combine writing AND drawing.