#AtoZChallenge: D is for Drawing



As a bilingual writer and reader, I am happy. However, if I am allowed to be greedy and desire one more thing, then it is the ability to draw. Drawing is a language I can never master. All the cows I draw are square and my sun looks like a doodle by a two-year-old. I have the visuals in my head but they just come out lousy on paper, which is really frustrating.

I know at least two artists who have travelled around the world. Everywhere they go, they sit down and draw and have the locals absolutely fascinated. In markets, on trains, outside of temples, churches and mosques, or simply in the middle of nowhere. People gather around them, oohing and aahing, their hearts and souls captured by the magic that a seemingly simple combination of lines and colours can create. Many of these people’s lives are so tough that they hardly have time to imagine, but an artistic drawing is enough to bring them joy and help them dream.

You cannot do that by writing. At least not without translation. And even if you manage to have a piece of writing translated, it requires publishing and distribution in order to reach people. More importantly, while drawing invites instant and often emotional feedback, writing can only be responded to after readers have done a certain amount of thinking. That is to say, it takes time to absorb words, but images can be comprehended – and enjoyed – almost spontaneously.

In ancient times when printing did not exist, people survived visually. Literature was purely oral, which helped to make all our legends and myths so vivid and delightful. Even after printing was invented, drawing continued to inspire generations of human beings to remain close to Mother Nature. While writing is all about human life, love and death, drawing serves as a fragile but permanent thread that connects us with the Mysterious Universe.

For example, yesterday we had a burn-off outside to get rid of all the unwanted wood and discarded tree branches and plants, organic junk that had been piling up in the corner of the backyard since mid-November as a result of last summer’s fire ban. (In Australia we often have a ban on outdoor burning in summer to reduce the risk of causing bushfires.) Deep at night, under the full moon, the fire had died down but the coals were still warm. Glowing red in the dark, they looked like sparkling stars from a distant galaxy, calling for interstellar travellers to pay them a visit, to share that sense of wonderful yearning for romantic freedom. It was a poem composed in the most natural language one can ever find.

I imagined possums sitting around the fire and warming their soft paws. Tiny marshmallows and stories were passed around, furry, fluffy memories of trees, nuts, fruit and sometimes a scary cat or two. Little ringtail possums leaned on bigger brushtail mates, eyes shiny and alert, happily chatting throughout the night. Then, when dawn came, they all returned home to sleep, running and chasing each other across our metal roof, thumping and thundering like a bunch of wild, silly horses. It woke me up, yawning, just in time to see the sun rising.

I wish I could draw it all… Mmmm, now that I see what I have written… perhaps I should just stick to writing and be done with it.


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