I can’t draw.
That’s not me being modest or defeatist, I set the bar unbelievably low before reaching that conclusion.
If you imagine how low you think I set it, then keep going. Nope, further, further still, a bit more and there it is. Squint and you’ll just about see it.
Some time ago my sister, while looking at some artwork on the fridge, commented on how Luca’s drawing was ‘not bad’. He was eighteen months old. I drew it.
Last week, after being inspired by Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, I decided to have a go myself. Guesses of who I’d drawn included Morgan Freeman, Margaret Thatcher and Jackie Chan. It was a self-portrait.
Yesterday Luca asked me to draw him a rocket ship he’d seen on Mr Maker. Our recycling bin is now full of phallus drafts, the best/least offensive of which is hanging in our front window; like a festive cock and balls.
So when I say I set the bar low, I mean ‘not bad for an eighteen-month old’ low.
Never learning to draw is one of my biggest regrets in life, which is why I’m trying really hard to encourage the kids to be artistic. Thankfully they don’t need much encouragement, but herein lies another problem; what to keep?
For my 40th birthday I was presented by my mum with a huge folder of artwork from when I was at primary school. It turns out I peaked artistically at six.
What if this is the case for my boys too? Could they have peaked already? Am I throwing away now what will later prove to be their greatest masterpiece?
It’s a daily dilemma, not least because they produce so much of the damn stuff.
Left to Janet we’d keep every piece of tat they produce. She once commented enthusiastically on an autumnal picture of Luca’s. He’d brought it in on the sole of his shoe. I kid you not.
But left to me we’d keep next to nothing. On the last day of term I’m tempted to swap their school bag for the recycling bin. The shelf-life of their art mirrors precisely that of the paper bin collection schedule anyway.
And it’s not just the quantity that’s a problem but the quality too. At this age it’s sometimes difficult to know if it’s art or just spillage from last nights pasta bake. That mornings spilt breakfast or a Cheerio necklace. It was the latter, apparently.
But I’ve found a compromise. The fridge of Quality Control.
Everyone’s happy. Janet has an ever-evolving exhibition to cherry-pick her favourite pieces to keep. I get to impose a strict ‘one on, one off’ policy and then fill the recycling bin with a clear conscience. And the boys think they have a huge fridge to showcase their best work.
Little do they know they have competition for space. You see there’s a new kid in town. A forty year old kid who’s set himself the challenge of learning to draw. A middle-aged doodler determined to fight for that fridge space.
I’ve given myself a year, and if by then I’ve not wiped the fridge door with them I’ll hang up my HB for good.
I’ll be honest, it’s not looking good after my Santa was mistaken for a donkey, but suddenly Luca’s footprint Rudolph isn’t looking quite so smug as he was last week.