A few weeks ago, whilst I was watching the Great British Bake Off, I decided that I wanted to become a baker so I impulse bought a guidebook called ‘The Ultimate Guide To Baking’ in the assumption that it would instantly transform me into the next Mary Berry.
‘The Ultimate Guide To Baking’ is full of images of expertly constructed, pristinely decorated cakes.
Each image is accompanied by a set of instructions which are arranged in a series of ‘simple steps’.
In theory, following these simple steps will enable you to accurately replicate the cake in the book.
The problem with guidebooks is that they tend to be written by extremely talented people who have spent years honing their craft.
Therefore, what may seem like a ‘simple step’ to them, is actually quite challenging for the average person.
In addition, each ‘simple step’ is linked within a co-dependant chain of other simple steps so, in order to successfully replicate the image in the book, it is necessary to follow every single simple step correctly.
If you mess up one simple step, it directly affects all the other steps and the entire thing collapses – like a game of ‘simple step’ jenga.
I first learnt that simple steps aren’t as simple as they seem when I decided to learn to draw as a child and made the mistake of believing that a ‘Drawing Made Easy’ guidebook would transform me into a skilled and masterful artist.
It turns out that 23 year old me can’t cope with simple steps either…
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As a foetus in the womb, before I had even developed a functioning neurological system or any comprehension of my identity, there was a voice in the darkness and the voice was art.
For decades, intellectuals had been asking themselves the question, ‘What is art?’.
This was only because they hadn’t met me yet.
Upon meeting me, they would have only had to take one look at my face and the answer would have instantly become startlingly clear.
Here is a picture of one of my earliest works:
I entitled it Dog Jumping Over Fence.
I suspect that this was maybe because it is a picture of a dog jumping over a fence.
I think Dog Jumping Over Fence clearly demonstrates that, even at the tender age of seven, I had developed an uncanny ability to accurately capture the size of a dog in relation to that of a fence, a skill that many experienced artists spend years honing.
I was also extremely adept at representing the intricacies of the human form.
Soon after completing Dog Jumping Over Fence, I drew the following portrait of my mother:
Having slaved away at the portrait for an entire six minutes, I proudly presented my mum with her likeness.
I was expecting her to put it up for auction, or at the very least frame it.
However, for some imperceptible reason, she did not seem too flattered.
She handed the drawing back to me and told me that it was ‘nice’.
Normally, when adults tell children that something is ‘nice’, it is code for ‘that is a complete pile of wank’.
However, in my innocence and naivety, I missed the latent subtlety of this insult and was therefore undeterred from continuing in my pursuit of artistic glory.
When I turned nine years old, I felt as if I wanted to take my art to the next level.
I decided to learn from the sacred book of art:
The Weatherly Guide to Drawing Animals presented the reader with a series of simple steps which they could follow in order to gradually build up images of various kinds of animals.
I opened the book and selected a rhino.
I was excited.
I was about to draw a rhino.
At the time, I felt that if I could just draw the rhino, then my life would be complete.
However, the process of drawing a rhino was more challenging than I ever could have expected.
Nevertheless, I persevered and eventually emerged, exhausted and nervously twitching, with a drawing of a rhino.
Except my rhino looked like this:
My experience with the rhino greatly damaged my confidence.
What kind of artist was I if I couldn’t even draw an accurate representation of an herbivorous safari animal?
Soon afterwards, traumatised and dejected, I went through what I like to refer to as my minimalist phase.
I drew the following picture, which I christened Blank Page With Nothing On It.
Blank Page With Nothing On It is an artwork which I feel completely defies the expectations established by its title:
A few days later, I drew Blank Page With Nothing On It 2: Another Blank Page With Nothing On It.
This was then followed by Blank Page With Nothing On It: The Sequel to the Sequel, Blank Page With Nothing On It Reloaded and Blank Page With Nothing On It 5: The Pencil-Deprived Void.
I became slightly obsessed with the series, frantically creating new installments in the hope that each one would be blanker and contain more nothingness than that which had come before.
However, I gradually discovered that, no matter how hard I tried, each picture had similar concentrations of blackness and nothingness.
I had lost control of the series.
It was becoming a caricature of itself.
I stopped creating art all together.
A few weeks ago, whilst tidying through my stuff, I came across a page of a comic book that I created back in my pre-rhino days.
Whilst looking at my work, I was reminded of the fact that my complex and witty writing style could be combined with my sophisticated drawings in order to bring something truly special into existence.
I realised that depriving the world of my illustrations was a crime worse than not depriving the world of my illustrations.
Hence, I have been inspired to once again pick up a pencil and illustrate this blog.