Artistic distress

Rachna Singh
Saturday, 17 February 2018

Since I had long fingers like my artist-uncle, I was proclaimed the artist of the family.  That is when my torturous artistic journey began. As my co-bencher Poonam sketched plump, pretty lotuses, I produced ones that had rickets. Their stems looked like the tendons of unidentifiable road kill.

Painting was no better — my paint was always 
either too watery or too glob-by. It either seeped out of the lotus and stained all tendrils in its path or it just sat stubbornly in the middle of the petal, refusing to budge.

Since I had long fingers like my artist-uncle, I was proclaimed the artist of the family.  That is when my torturous artistic journey began. As my co-bencher Poonam sketched plump, pretty lotuses, I produced ones that had rickets. Their stems looked like the tendons of unidentifiable road kill.

Painting was no better — my paint was always 
either too watery or too glob-by. It either seeped out of the lotus and stained all tendrils in its path or it just sat stubbornly in the middle of the petal, refusing to budge.

In the final exams, I even attempted a swan to take the focus away from my diseased lotus. But, the swan looked like a snake being swallowed by a pig. I gave up just as Poonam signed her paper with a flourish and submitted it.

Unaware of my pallet of pain, my family still believed in my artistic future — I had a quiet, distracted demeanour that befitted an artist and my fingers had continued to remain long.

Poonam, by now, had started painting on canvases — the customary hibiscus followed by the skimpily clad woman fondling a deer. I had to do something fast. Why couldn’t I sketch my own beautiful woman? All I needed to draw was a tiny blouse, tinier loin-cloth and lots of jewellery. I started with the face — a long nose, luscious lips, almond eyes framed by long hair. It looked like a dim-witted man with a bad wig. Or Donald Trump.

To redeem her, I hurriedly added as many ornaments as I could — on her forehead, ears, nose. Then I proceeded to draw her curvy torso. It looked satisfactory. Now was the tricky part — the hands and the legs. I sketched slender arms that ended in beautiful, long fingers. My premature euphoria clouded the critical decision on where to end the fingers. And that is how the first Wolverine was born. The legs had to be long too. I struggled to keep them optimal — not too thin since they had to support a well-endowed body and not too fat either. My hands were trembling and my faith in my long fingers was waning.

Finally, the sketch was ready — a man wearing a wig, lots of ornaments, traffic cones for breasts, wolverine hands and muscular legs firmly planted like the famous vanara, Angad challenging people to uproot him from my canvas.
That is roughly the time when I quit Art.

(Bestselling author Rachna Singh is a sit-down commedienne)

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