The Doodle that never became a Poodle

As a kid, I always liked drawing stuff. One of my earliest memories involves a drawing of some farm animals and a propane tank. Yes: a propane fuel tank, of the large kind no less. I probably saw one of those things near the petting zoo (mum took us there every now and then).

The riding school at the end of our street happens to have a propane tank sitting in their garden, so it’s likely I didn’t just make up disturbing combinations of biological and industrial elements as a means of protesting the mechanization of our de-humanizing society… or something to that effect.

I’d seen some cows and a propane tank, and then I drew them onto a sheet of paper. Or maybe I thought, that the propane tank was, in fact, a cow.

Well, I remember when drawing became much less fun. There was this new kid in school, a nervous little lad that happened to be an awesome draftsman. Everything this kid drew made my creations look like a pile of dung stacked upon a carton worth of cigarette buds. Jealousy got the best of me, and I started to belittle his works and encourage others to join in (primary school, folks). This hate campaign didn’t work out the way it “should have”, though – the kid just kept getting better while I started to sink further in the swamp that is mediocrity.

At some point, I said to myself: “Okay, if you can’t beat them… copy them.”, only to end up with badly-designed knock-offs that breathed even less sympathy than my original works. Eventually, halfway-through sixth grade, the local news rag organized a province-wide contest – we had to design our own front page. Naturally, the talented kid won and I was beyond myself with rage and jealousy, having to watch him being put on a pedestal and awarded (very lame) prizes.

This wouldn’t be much of a story if the talented kid hadn’t become one of my best friends over time. My passion for drawing had subsided over time, enough to just let things be and enjoy other people’s talents – plus, well, most of us do grow up to become a bit mature. Everything’s relative anyway: turns out the kid’s little brother is an even better draftsman, guess it runs in the family.

That’s beside the original point of this particular post, though (as usual). The fact that I don’t spend loads of time on consciously drawing works of art any longer, doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy some occasional doodling. In fact, every time my mind seems to wander off from basic conversation (through the phone or during a lecture), doodles keep appearing magically on all corners of any sort of paper that happens to be at my disposal. And strangely enough, most of them contain certain re-occuring elements. There’s usually a lot of smoke involved, for instance. Planes, too – that, or rockets. Flames, fire, heavy industry; a (badly-carried out) suggestion of speed. And, like my mum, I doodle Eschereqsue cubes a lot; little boxes that overlap and intertwine through thick lines of ink.

Too bad I recently threw out most of my old school material – notebooks, exercise books, papers – the works. It used to be kind of fun looking back at all the weird doodles, inevitably appearing every few pages or so. But then again, as said before: it was basically a repetition of moves. Grim clouds, various weaponry, planes, flames and automobiles. At some point, I experimented with combinations of poetry and doodling, mostly ending up with two half-baked products. Every now and then, a doodle would really stand out – the one depicting a crashing plane, puncturing a skycraper (leaving thick clouds of smoke in its trail) and about to dive into a church, for instance (see picture above). A few weeks later, 9/11 happened.

Anyway, today I decided to dust off my (still relatively new) Wacom Bamboo Fun and give it a whirl. Since I bought it last Christmas, I had undertaken only a few half-assed attempts at “computer-dooodling” before deciding Bamboo and me would never get along too well. Turns out you have to be pretty persistent, it’s kinda hard to get used to the whole floating-pen idea – I’d use it as a mouse cursor, initially. However, today, drawing felt like a fun activity again – if only for a few minutes, obviously. Soon enough, my mind started complaining: “That line should be over there”, “What is that supposed to be”, “You’re wasting your time here; write something interesting instead”.

Yet, I was able to override said thoughts for long enough to come up with a plane shaped like a dog-face, chasing a fly with a Roman-era pillar stuck in between its teeth. Not exactly a thing of beauty, and perhaps disturbing according to Freudian analyses, but a plane shaped like a dog-face, chasing a fly with a Roman-era pillar stuck in between its teeth nonetheless. I’m not sure if it helped me in venting out frustrations or visually-sharing jubilations – but at the very least, it helped me in going back in time for a bit, while moving ahead as well. It helped me to accept that the road ahead is paved with past failures. As well as the occasional propane tank.

This doodle might grow up to become part-Poodle after all.

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