Draw This Way
In the center of a clutter filled room—toys and clothes sprawled about in any which direction—laid a boy, lying on his stomach doodling and scribbling on a piece of scratch paper. Bobbing his head and feet to an imaginary tune, it was what could be called a perfect state of content. The raven haired boy’s mother walked into the room and looked around the war torn area.
“Ugh, Kurtis, this place is a mess. You need to clean it.”
“Uhh…ok…” he replied absent mindedly.
The boy’s mother looked at her child and tilted her head to the side. “You know, you’re in the same spot you were in when I saw you this morning. You haven’t moved an inch. Why don’t you go play with the neighbor. I think your brother and him are outside playing.”
“Mhh…” The boy mumbled, “No sanks.”
A concerned frown grew on the mother’s face, “How about Shane? You haven’t seen him in awhile. You should go over to his house today, or invite him over here.”
“Sat’s ok,” Kurtis said, his speech impediment deforming his words as he returned back to his scribbles.
The faint echo of footsteps leaving a room and children playing outside faded in the small child’s world, as the piece of paper and pencil engulfed him completely into a world of white.
Kurtis eventually entered school and his days of leisure came to an end. But even within the confines of the classroom, he still found an entry way between that world and his, through a bridge called art. Kurtis’ notebook was more of a sketch pad. If one were to open it, they would find a page of notes, and on another page, they would find drawings and doodles all over the place—any blank area would not remain so for long under his pencil. Robots fighting robots, Superman, Batman and Spiderman were always found in any which page. The margins, the backside of the page and even the page itself, though he never gave much attention or intention on this habit, it was vital to him on a subconscious level.
But with school, he also entered into the required art classes. At first, it was a lovely experience, an excuse to draw instead of reading a book or learning arithmetic. But as he rose through the hierarchy of art classes, an apparent regression was made.
“What are you drawing there, Kurtis?” asked a tall, dark curly haired man.
“Beast Wars! They’re animal Transformers.” The energetic child added some sounds effects as he finished coloring the yellow robot firing a laser blast at the gray robot.
“You seem to draw these types of things a lot. What grade are you in?” The teacher questioned.
“Uhm.” The boy looked up and around, slightly confused. “Uhm” He repeated as he struggled between answering the question and finishing his picture. “Fifth?” he finally answered, counting on his fingers from under the table.
“And you still draw these cartoons?” The teacher eyed Kurtis’ paper. “Why don’t you try to actually follow along with the class? Use the charcoal and put some actual shading and dimension into it. Don’t just draw these silly robots. Here, how about this?” He grabbed an apple and placed it on the table in front of the boy. “Try sketching this with as much realism as you can. It’s simple.” He handed Kurtis a piece of charcoal.
Kurtis took the piece of charcoal and examined it for a few moments. He promptly dropped it on to the table and inspected his now filthy fingers, black from the residue. His lips curled as he looked back to the teacher.
“Give it a try. From now on I want you to work with these mediums, and I don’t want to see any more of your cartoons. Join the class in what we’re doing,” the teacher said sternly.
Kurtis scowled as his hands created a messy apple, with shaky lines, uninspired and with no real form or resemblance to the object. Kurtis quickly ran to the bathroom upon completion, washed his hands of the filth, and went back to finish his original drawing.
When the teacher found out that Kurtis still was not following the class curriculum, he asked him to leave. Kurtis didn’t quite understand why and nor would he for quite some time. The shy boy would simply just continue on loving to draw what he loved to draw. And it was through this that Kurtis found a new outlet—or rather, purpose—in his insatiable desire to draw.
Kurtis would take note cards and draw pictures of monsters, robots, dragons, warriors or anything he would possibly imagine. Eventually, he had made so many of these creations he started playing a game with them. With some help from his brother, they managed to create their own card game.
Kurtis would go to school and sell his cards in booster packs, two quarters for six random cards. Kids who were not as physically endowed or interested would go to the benches during recess or P.E. and just play that card game.
“Hey, Kurtis, I heard you sell that card game,” A timid boy nervously asked.
“Hm? Oh, yeah.”
“How much are they?” He asked stuffing his hands in his pocket to count the change.
“Um, fifty cents?” Kurtis said, avoiding eye contact.
“I only have thirty five cents.” The boy pulled out a handful of coins from his pocket and started to turn away. Kurtis rummaged through his backpack for a bit and gave him a small pack of tin-foil-wrapped cards.
“Here.” Kurtis looked around for a bit and gave a faint smile.
However, kids—as they always do—grew up and lost interest in the fanciful card game, but Kurtis didn’t. Even when no one was buying, he would still continue to draw these cards if not only for the sole purpose of making them—that had always been the purpose.
But eventually, Kurtis reached another conflict. His parents signed him up for art lessons. They were worried that Kurtis had become anti-social, too engulfed in his own world to have more than one or two friends of which he rarely spoke to or of. They thought it would be a good idea to send him to a class so that he could meet more people who had the ‘same interests’ as him. But the classmates were not the problem.
“That’s good Cindy; though try making the shading on the underside of the hippo a little more pronounced,” the teacher commented as she walked through the class of four or five students. “James, watch your proportions, good texture, though; Hillary, you’re doing great, amazing work—Kurtis!” He stopped when his eyes met the paper of the unconfirmed artist. “W-What is that?” she asked in a shrill voice.
The boy, his legs folded underneath him and missing one sock, looked up through his brown eyes.
“Kurtis, I said draw a hippo.” The teacher pointed to the board, where a hippo that was drawn by her was posted. Kurtis looked down at his paper, and what he had drawn was not a hippo. It had the same shape of a hippo, almost like that was its original intent, but the spikes and wings protruding from its back were not the desired product. The head was not that of a hippo’s either, but more a strange fierce lion. With the added effects of odd anatomy, random mechanized parts. It was anything but a hippo.
“What is that?” The teacher repeated her question.
“Er.” The boy examined his work, almost as if he had no idea himself. “I’m not sure.” It seemed as if the boy got carried away. He had every intention of following the curriculum, but soon found himself bored with what he was making and fashioned his own creation.
“No, no, no! I’ve told you this before, you and you’re strange cartoons are fine, but you NEED to learn how to draw other things. Try doing some abstract work.” The teacher pointed to a picture of random colors flung about the canvas hanging from the wall.
Kurtis shrugged, “I don’t know what that is either.”
The teacher sighed. “I don’t want to see this sort of thing again.” She echoed his past.
A foreign, yet familiar feeling swelled up inside Kurtis. His stomach churned and he felt his body heat up, yet his blood chilled. He quickly stood up, gathered his belongings and left the room without a single word, never to return.
At that point, Kurtis had made it clear that he would no longer be taking any lessons or classes. From then on, he did everything himself. Taught himself, expanded on his own—the way he had always wanted to learn and had felt would be the best way. But eventually, he found a difficulty in this. For hours after school he would sketch something, and then try to ink it in, only to find that the inking would come out shaky and messy. And on top of that, when he tried to color with colored pencils or copic markers, rarely could he stay in the lines. Frustrated, he made little progress.
Kurtis’ mother felt something was wrong with him as well, on many levels. Dyslexia ran in his family, his father, brother and grandfather all had dyslexia. She felt that he most likely had it as well, so she sent him to a psychologist to get a diagnostic.
“He does have dyslexia; that seems to be expected, given his family history.” The doctor handed forward a full report. “However, he also seems to have many other problems. ADD, a short term memory disorder, a processing disorder, a slight case of Aspergers, and dysgraphia.”
“Aspergers, and dysgraphia?” Kurtis’ mother asked the doctor.
“Aspergers is a form of autism; it makes a child less susceptible to social interactions or to freely express themselves. They struggle verbally and often become obsessed with little things. Dysgraphia is somewhat like Parkinson’s. He has uncontrollable small convulsions in his hands. That is most likely the reason for his bad handwriting; however it is possible to overcome these with time.”
Something clicked in his mother’s head as she finally realized why her son had been so different, so alienated at school yet not seeming to even mind; why her son had always seemed so frustrated when drawing, yet too fascinated to give up.
Kurtis’ uncle was an aspiring artist himself—however, he was more of a technical artist, much like Kurtis’ previous teachers were. But Kurtis’ uncle had sent him a copy of Adobe Photoshop, and from then on, creativity flourished. At first, it was just Kurtis drawing something on paper, then scanning it in and then digitally coloring it—a process which eliminated his poor coloring by hand. However, as time went on, he felt as if he needed more.
Kurtis researched into and bought a Wacom pad, a pad that transferred the physical movement of his pen into the digital movement on his cursor. In other words, Kurtis would never need to draw on paper again.
This was perfect for him. The Wacom pad was able to adjust sensitivity and lines, thus the shaky lines and coloring were no longer an issue. He was able to draw and color like never before. He created his own unique style and eventually joined an online network of other artists where he could post all of his creations.
And through his experience he was able to unlock a whole new world of creative outlets. He became introduced to Japanese animation and fell in love with it from the start—from the way the story was told to the unique and fluid motion of the animation. The style of anime was adapted into his own unique style that came from his many years of drawing comic book heroes.
He also got involved in new ways of creation past the simple medium of drawing. He became enthralled in fanfiction and started to write stories and paint through his words. He started to sew costumes for anime conventions, and create art with his designs and through his needle. He made a lot of friend, good friends, all with the creative desires and interests like him. And now, he can look back at the short life he’s had, and pick up any picture he has ever drawn and be able to pinpoint the time it was first conceived. His life, through art.
Years later, an older teenager with long dark hair is rummaging through his closet, finding old belongings and nostalgic toys. He opens a blue container and brushes the dust away. Inside he finds an old sketchpad filled with nonsense and wild pictures. Scribbles and doodles of fantasy sprawled off the pages to mirror the world he loved and lived in. And from the corner of his lips, a faint smile formed.