'Good at drawing' - yes that has been my downfall.
Why oh why couldn't I have been 'good at surgery 'or 'good at house conveyancing'. Even, 'good at sticking bits of pipe together so that water can pass through them' would have been a more serviceable path to tread than drawing.
The problem began at junior school where I was always introduced as ‘Andrew, he’s good at drawing’ by my teachers. The headmaster even arranged for me to have my picture taken by the local paper - ‘The Thame Gazette’ – holding one of my ‘good drawings’, a pencil drawing of a peregrine falcon. They even wrote short article about my incredible drawing ability.
It wasn’t even a very good drawing, but it furthered the legend that I was - and you know what happens when you begin to believe your own publicity.
After that my fate was sealed. I spent most of my time drawing this and drawing that, sketching here and sketching there. My Saturdays were spent painting, my evenings were spent painting, it simply became what I did in most of my spare time and I’d find any excuse to draw. Everyone encouraged me to draw and ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ at my dexterity with a pencil, they even commented on how good I was at colouring-in; no going over the lines for me, and blocks of colour were nowhere to be seen as I subtly shaded inside the outline drawing of a young deer. I came from a drawing family you see - my uncle Charlie could draw, cousin Leslie could draw, even my Mum could draw the most intricate paisley pattern shapes freehand.
And so it went on. At secondary school I did pretty well at any subject where drawings could be included along with my written work – history, geography, biology, even chemistry; nobody could draw a vacuum flask as well as me and my retorts were to be marvelled at. Unfortunately subjects where drawing was unimportant, like maths, held no interest for me, so I didn’t really try very hard. My school exercise books were littered with comments like ‘excellent diagrams’ and ‘extremely good drawings of a dissected frog’. I once spent a whole week of evenings on a drawing of the Acropolis and then about thirty minutes writing the essay to go along with it. I got an ‘A’ and my history teacher (Primo) commented ‘the best drawing I have ever seen from one of my pupils’ – no mention of the scrappy, rushed, badly spelt essay though.
Each year I won the art prize, after school trips my drawings and paintings were exhibited in the hall on parent’s evenings, I illustrated the school magazine. Yes, I was good at drawing and after taking my art ‘A’ level it seemed only natural to go to college to study art. So I did. After that (give or take a slight change in direction from fine art to graphics) I worked in the graphics industry as a designer for a number of years, then as a manager of designers and artists, and on and on until I arrived where I am today - kind of nowhere - and all because I was ‘good at drawing’.
These days I wonder if I'm good at anything at all, I'm not even sure if I ever was. I keep telling myself to get out my brushes and paints and take it out on the canvas – I’m building up to it and some day soon who knows.
I'm thinking of trying a bird painting, but it won’t be a peregrine falcon. After all, look where that got me.