• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 11
Image by


A morning class, paid for by a friend. We are learning to draw better. We are learning to read the world as art and capture it on canvas. The artist tells me to close my eyes and blink a swift glance at the scene before me. The artist tells me to draw the shapes of the negatives before my brain fills in the blanks. I must not draw what I expect to see, only what is there.

I draw the little orange boat with its green sail, adrift on a sea both wild and still, and beneath it a kraken rises.

I try again, and this time I see the orange boat is foundering - the sea spilling clear from a hull splintered and caved by the pressing thumb of the waves, and the water beneath it is thick with turbulence and it grips the boat and holds it high. Water is strength, water is malleable, water gathers away from the rising dark beneath it and noodles off the notched lid of it. Water off a duck’s back, if the duck were dense and made of coal.

I blink and I blink and the scene shifts – the boat lifted safe away from the dark ball of the world, set soaring, filled fertile with hope and newness, and the sea remains to be whatever it will be, however it is pinched and folded and crimped and turned, and beneath it the dark stays balled up, crouched in, ready to unfurl just as soon as the sea is flat and unaware.

I blink and draw and blink and paint, and then there is the finished product, the outlines, the shading; clumsy splashes of colour. The little orange boat made of neither wood nor metal, beset by a beast of neither sea nor sky, adrift upon a sea of neither water nor salt, and all three at odds with the other. The artist looks at the scene and looks at my work and says, see, see how you saw and were not deceived by what you wanted to see?



And I think, I wish I had seen a tangerine and plasticine and more plasticine, and not the scene that I saw. The artist can’t dismantle that now, not even by hooking up the tangerine and peeling it, not even with a thumb print in the sea. Not even by eating the pieces of the world I have drawn.