As far as I can remember, I always had an artisitic mind. I can remember the buzz of having grown-ups cooing at pictures done in Infant school, and even having the latest drawing displayed for all to see. I could regularly be seen with pencils and a pad from WHSmiths and sat drawing anything and everything. My favourite subject would be buildings, the geometric shapes making the actual drawing easier in my eyes. As my father will testify, I had many different styles. Another time, whilst bored, I spent a damp Sunday afternoon watching the Formula 1 on TV. I decided I was going to do a caricature of some of the drivers, and simply by doodling on a piece of graph paper, I created the piece seen below.
I enjoyed drawing cartoons, but this was mainly due to a fellow artist who had the most amazing ability for cartooning himself at school. This boy, Toby was his name, would take any subject and do a full A2 cartoon everyday during the lunch hour. I'll never forget one he did when giving the subject of lemmings. He did a view looking up a cliff as numerous lemmings threw themself to their death. One had a parachute, another would be flapping like crazy. Meanwhile the less then successful lemmings, adorned with plastercasts and crutches, would be at the bottom, scoring the leaps. Who could not fail to be impressed? He left school with no GCSEs other then art, and because he needed 4 passes to get into college, he was cast upon the scrap heap. He took his portfolio to his bank, got a small loan, and a few years later had regular orders in Athena, the card shop gadgety place in almost every high street in Britain.
It made sense then that I moved from school towards the world of art. My art teacher, a very very cool hippy by the name of Dave Burns, was always eager to encourage me in any way he could. When it came for me to choose the subjects for my final 2 years of school, art was an automatic choice. The one thing I didn't enjoy up until that point was painting. The school would have the old hard bristled brushes that would produce an untidy 1 inch wide sweep, and this wasn't enough detail for the work I wanted to do. My art teacher ordered in especially for me a pack of fine bristled brushes, but even though I did some invaluable paintings, I still preferred the medium of either pencil, charcoal or pen.
It came to my final year, and I'd decided I wanted to do Graphic Design at college. With the interest in computers and art, this seemed the obvious way to go. Croydon College had a large art department, and expressed an interest in my application. I was sent an assignment to provide at the interview with my portfolio. The brief was to take a box, and between 3 and 6 other objects, and put them around or inside the box. Another boy in my class, the only other applicant for the course, took a matchbox and 4 large ball bearings. Wanting to show my real technical detail I took an old wireless, a sheep's skull, a mouldy old trainer and a Black and Decker drill. The first drawing I did took me hours. in fact hours and hours. I spent every spare moment at school with pen and paper, drawing every single part of each component. A black and white pen drawing, what I ended up with was agreed by my art teacher to be the best piece I'd ever done. In his opinion it was one of the best pieces he'd ever seen, and certainly was the best example of a pen drawing. We agreed that this would be the icing on the cake at my interview, and with the 4 other styles (watercolour, computer image, sketch and charcoal), I had acceptance for the course in the can.
I didn't get in. The course director told me the level of technical details was very high, but there was no creativity in the pieces. I'd been too exact. I didn't think that was a bad thing, wanting to do graphic design, but my art teacher said their loss was my gain. He had a word with someone else at the college, and got me an interview for foundation art and design. Now optimistic that I was assured a place, my teacher said it was just formality. I arrived at the interview, relaxed and friendly, and was promptly torn apart by the interviewer. Each and every piece was metaphorically ripped apart, highlighting each and every part that was incorrect in his eyes. Even the pen drawing, lauded by my teacher, "showed a slight glimmer of hope." I left there lower then a snake's backside, and categorically vowed not to bother with art any more. Some small consolation was my art teacher grading me later that year with my one and only grade 'A' GCSE, but the damage was done.
So, some 18 years later, and I can count the number times I have sat down with a pencil or pen and a piece of paper on both hands. Whilst recently tidying my office, I came across a a pen drawing I did about 3 years ago of a local castle called "Carreg Cennen."
Once again, the level of technical details is high, and it was chilly whilst I did the drawing, so I didn't take it seriously. I decided to tell my tale of disappointment on here, and to include the picture.
The picture is very far from the best piece I've ever done. In fact, it's almost below average, and the less I follow the arty path, the less I'll return to it. I think it's more a case of what's done is done. If only one of the two tutors at Croydon College had cut me a break, things could have been so different today.
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