Saturday, April 16, 2016

Book 28: OK so he's pretty good but can he draw a BULLET ANT? Didn't think so.

When I was 19 or so, or maybe 22, I took some art classes at the UW-Milwaukee. To get a bachelors' degree in political science, I needed a certain amount of art credits. So I took a couple of semesters of guitar, and a summer class in drawing.

I liked drawing almost as much as I liked guitar. But I was never very good at it.  I can, if I really, really focus, make a pretty credible picture. Years ago, probably 15 or so, as a present for Sweetie I drew various scenes from New York City: the Status of Liberty, the lions outside the library, the Coca-Cola sign in Times Square, and a hot dog cart.  They turned out pretty good.

But that took me weeks to do, and it was a ton of work, to come up with something that was merely okay.

Drawing is something I've never mastered, but really want to. I still work at it from time to time, and even when I'm just sitting and drawing quick pictures for Mr Bunches I try to work on having a style and making pictures my own. (we draw about 5 alphabets a week, with him writing the letter and telling me what to draw, and then he writes the word. We do animals [A is alligator, etc], foods, vegetables, and sometimes "phonics.")

One thing that holds me back is perspective. If I'm trying to draw something from an angle where you might not see part of it -- an airplane, say, where you wouldn't see the wing on one side -- I tend to draw the wing anyway, because it doesn't look right to me otherwise. So I have this plane that appears to exist in several dimensions at once, and I know I shouldn't do it, but I can't seem to help it.

I was thinking about this when I sat down to read (?) the all-illustrated, wordless book The Arrival today at the library.  We'd been out running errands (picking up a new light switch for the bathroom, and going to the used bookstore) and had then stopped off the local library, where they were going to do a "Crafty Kids" thing at 2:30; they do those about every other month, offering free craft projects for kids.

We got there early, and had about 45 minutes to kill, so while Mr Bunches played on the computer, Mr F and I went around looking through the books for something interesting.  On the end of the "Teen Graphic Novels" shelf I saw The Arrival sitting, and I picked it up to see what it was all about.

Initially, I read the blurb on the back and then put it back on the shelf, ready to move on to the next set and see if there was anything to browse through there, but I didn't, right away, and instead opened the book up to glance through the artwork.

I was really enthralled with how gorgeous the book looked. So I sat down to read it while Mr Bunches played and Mr F looked at the lizard and sat patiently waiting for this to be over (Mr F is not a fan of the library, and spends much of his time there sitting in chairs, rolling his eyes when I suggest books to read, and making me take him to the bubbler for a drink.)

I'm glad I did.

The Arrival tells the story, again, in pictures only, of a man who leaves his wife and daughter to go to a new country.  The story seems to be a refugee story of sorts: as the man leaves and the wife and daughter head back home the city they are in seems overtaken with spiky tentacles looming all over it.

The book combines the sepia-toned early-immigrant feeling with a supernatural flair: buildings are fantastical or frightening, there are all sorts of strange creatures wandering around (apparently some sentient) and other, harder-to-describe stuff.

The man settles into his new life with a companion animal of sorts, and tries out a few jobs before getting set up in a factory, where he talks to a few other people about their background. (One man came from a startling country where giants turned everything angular. It has to be seen to be understood, really, but was spectacular and creepy.)

Overall, it took me about 40 minutes to read it because I ended up going through it twice: once for the story and once to go back and look at the pictures, and examine them in more detail.  It's a book I might decide to buy one day, the kind of book that should exist in hard-copy format because it makes the drawing all the more amazing.

I definitely recommend it.

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