After debating myself for months, I finally decided to take the
art class. I always wished to create art. This dream seemed so
within my reach after I read the course description in the
continuing education catalog of the local community college. It
“Discover the power of a pencil rendering as you explore line,
texture, shape, and tone to create three dimensional images.
Emphasis will be on tools, techniques, elements and
composition. This is the class to take whether you are new to
drawing or experienced.”
My aspiration was perfectly articulated by this brief
description. I was further convinced to pursue my dream by the
• Spiral sketch book- 8 ½ x 11, #50 white paper, 100 sheets
• Sharp automatic pencils – 2 pack, 0.7 mm
• American natural wood pencils – box of 10, sharpen prior
• Sanford Design multi-pack erasers – 3 types
• Q-tips, one small box
• A few cotton balls
I already had most of the required tools at home and no
drawing experience was required. The spiral sketch book, I
purchased at Hobby Lobby and although I had many erasers
lying around at home, I didn’t take any chances and treated
myself with a brand new package of multi-pack erasers as
instructed. God knows I didn’t want to screw up this dream like
the ones I had before.
I paid $129 online and enrolled for seven sessions of drawing
class to become an artist. When registration was completed and
the non-refundable fee was charged to my credit card, I realized
that the first session was held the week before. I’d already
missed the first class. It was too late to change my mind
anyway. If a dream can come true in seven sessions, who says
it wouldn’t in six? I thought.
The next Monday evening, I drove forty five minutes across
town in freezing rain to get to the high school where the class
was held. When I arrived at destination, I faced a massive dark
building hibernating under the razor sharp needles of frozen
rain. The ice covered structure callously had its main entrance
locked perhaps to keep out intruders like myself. The cold wind
slapped my face as I walked around the building to find an
unlocked door. Finally I noticed a few cars parked by a glass
door with inside lights on. Hastily I entered with art supplies
clutched in my shivering fist and looked around for the room. I
was now ten minutes late.
Anxiously I paced a maze of long corridors desperately
turning every doorknobs looking for my art class. The faster I
walked, the longer and narrower the hallways appeared to be.
The walls were tilting toward me, I could hardly breath. It was
getting too late and there was no sign of art. Maybe I was in the
wrong building altogether. Maybe the class was cancelled due to
severe weather. I was losing hope when a shiny spot at the
end of darkness captured my attention. I rushed toward the light
and saw a woman pushing her cleaning cart out of the restroom.
“Excuse me. Do you know where the art class is?”
“No Engles senior,” she smiled.
I responded to her innocent smile with a salacious one of my
own. The moment I departed the cleaning angel enshrined in
the florescent light blended in the reek of ammonia, I wondered
maybe learning Spanish had a higher priority than aspiration for
art. Despite the insidious epiphany, I diverted my attention to
task at hand as I realized as tempting as it was, this was not the
time or the place to entice women.
Finally the search ended as I reached a well-lit room with its
door ajar. In the eerie silence of the room, I saw three women
and two men, each sitting separately behind a large table
deeply concentrating on the set of five empty bottles posed next
to each other. Each aspiring artist was gazing at the subjects
from different perspective. A short and stocky bald man was
quietly pacing the room keenly observing his students’
progress. I too sat behind the first available table without saying
a word and began staring at the bottles from my unique angle.
Either my late presence went unnoticed by everyone in the class
or they chose to ignore the new pupil.
Every few minutes, the amorphous shadow of our instructor
disturbed my concentration and blocked my view. His words,
“Observe 70% of the times and draw 30%” were engraved in his
ominous shadow. First I was feverishly cross-hatching the
bottom of a short round bottle of whisky and then imposed the
heavy shadow of the tall slender bottle of wine on the one sitting
next to it.
For two long hours, I delved into the sinful cores of the empty
bottles posing naked, leaning against one another to create a
taunting image. Their malicious curves, immutable symmetry,
and wicked intertwined shadows threw me into a vague abyss of
quandary. How could I possibly render their mournful emptiness,
capture their obscure remorse and seize their long lost delight?
How could I ever portray the haze of intoxication, the mist of
madness and the sting of remorse?
With great obsession, I explored the tender angles and timid
curvatures of my models and meticulously studied their inherent
traits latent in the depth of their shadows. And the more I
plunged into their lonely emptiness, the more I was immersed in
their abundant history. I’ve self-inflicted a painful wound of
observing an ambiguous past entrapped in transparencies of
present, doomed to oblivious future.
How could I portray the lost elation of a dull reality?
The impulsive strikes of my pen drew thousands of untamed
lines morphing into peculiar curves separating me from the
veracity of my peers in the class. Gradually, I found myself
locked inside the dungeon of my own creation, deeply molded
into the core of the bottles I was to sketch. I could see the
distorted light through the unrefined layers of seemingly
transparent glass between others and myself. The feral
contours of the pen rendered the vague outlines of me, an
amorphous creature trapped in his rogue imagination.
I was confined to a milieu so incomprehensible to others. To
free myself from this quandary, I ran to every corner of the page
to break away from the suffocating lines, forms and shadows I’d
drawn. Through the thick glasses, I could recognize the blurry
images of others consumed by their assignments, utterly
indifferent to my conundrum. I could hear the instructor’s voice
ricochet off the glasses insisting on observing the invisible
qualities of our subjects.
Another hour passed. The class finished, students left and
instructor turned off the lights and locked the door. Now, I’m
skulking in the eternal web of my own creation in solitude. In
absolute darkness there is no perception of depth, shades are
absurd and colors mere fantasy. In this dreadful vacuum of light
neither can I create nor can ever art exist.