By Tom Glassey
Every lunch and morning tea I come to these same bleachers. I’d think everyone on the field recognises me, because I sit in the same spot. I always bring my notebook, my pens, and my brown paper bag, with the sandwich and the chocolate bar dad packs. However, the chocolate bar is often different to the day before. Today it is a KitKat, which is good, because I like KitKat.
My process is ritualistic in its nature, some would say crushing in its light impersonality. I open my notebook to a new page, conscious of the fact I can’t catch the glimpse of any of the full pages that flick past. I look forward, and I see the same thing I see everyday. Some kids run track, some kids throw footballs, some kids sit in groups and talk, and some kids don’t. It’s a shame the American Highschool cliché is one of those clichés that are cliché because they are true; jocks, geeks, cheerleaders and fatties.
Inspiration, if inspiration is a random thought that occurs, strikes. Sometimes I draw what I see in front of me, sometimes I draw myself. Sometimes it’s something surreal, sometimes it’s just the logo of my chocolate bar. Whatever it is, all my drawings look the same.
Ultimately, I am not a conventionally good artist, and that’s why I remain so hopeful. I want to fill this notebook, but I know as long as my drawings look like this, it’ll never be that. Full.
Today I decide to draw a temporary tattoo parlour. A bikie drove past on the highway, covered in leather, hair and tattoos. And that made me think about tattoo parlours, and how good tattoo artists are at drawing. Then I thought about the temporary tattoo I got on my arm when I was in primary school, when Mum took me to the fair. Whoever looks at this photo won’t know whether a temporary tattoo parlour is a parlour where you get temporary tattoos, or a parlour that is only there for a while. My counsellor says art should always be up to interpretation. The art teacher says art should always be a question. I’m not sure if my sketches are questions, or answers, or statements, or anything.
The art teacher, Mrs Cooper, has goldish brown shiny hair, full red cheeks, and little pimples under her foundation. She stops me in the hallway with the lockers whenever she seems me with my notebook. She bends down to talk to me, in her soft voice. She uses upward inflections unlike anyone I know. I get useful little tips from her about my drawings in return for showing them to her. My eyes are too spherical, my lines are too strong, I should think about framing more. Her pointers are idle, but I like her all the same. I don’t do art as a subject, because I do all maths and science subjects, because I am good at them. I also don’t want to learn how to draw, because real artists don’t need to learn.
I pick at the bleachers with the hand I use to stabilise my notebook against me knee for a little bit. The paint is dark green. The side of the bleachers, the sides I can’t see are red and black, the school colours. I’m so interested by colours, that it hurts sometimes. I wonder why we make our schools make buildings out of brick and concrete when no one likes concrete’s colour. Concrete reminds me of prisons.
The dark green of the bench I’m on isn’t the same nice shade as the grass. The grass is green, and the sky is blue, and the clouds are white and red and black don’t go with these colours. I don’t know why we decided our school colours should be black and red when they don’t go with grass.
Harvey sits down next to me. Harvey is really nice, blonde, with a sharp jaw and wide shoulders. He plays football, and does debating, and is a lead tenor. He always tell me how jealous he is cause he can’t draw. My counsellor told me to try writing, and she would hate how I described Harvey. She said I should try using exposition, not just do show and tell like I did in pre-school. Artists have to be sophisticated. If I wanted to describe Harvey using exposition I would say that Harvey is Roger’s best friend, and Roger is Malcolm’s brother, and Malcolm is Harvey’s mother’s sister Rosanne’s son. What connection is Harvey to Malcolm?
My Counsellor says it’s strange for someone like me to want to do art. People like me usually like numbers, or at very least are good with them. And I am. But that is no reason to not be an artist. I like art, because maths is easy, and art is not. And I don’t understand art, but neither do other people. My counsellor told me to try writing about my feelings as art as well, and she gives me hints about how to describe faces, instead of draw them. She even told me to try music, and I joined a choir for a little bit, but it turned out I was diagnosed as tone deaf.
Drawing let’s my brain wander. I like watching films even more then I like drawing, but I couldn’t make films. Sometimes I’ll think about how strange it is when a camera changes angles in a film, and I have to rewatch all of my favourite films and just focus on scene changes, and the direction. Or I’ll learn about film soundtracks, and realise that so often there is silence in films, and I rewatch it focusing only on the audio, the Foley artists sound effects and the strings and percussion. I don’t like films from the eighties because they all sound the same. I do watch a lot of films though.
The astounding the influence something like hope has. Hope isn’t belief, it’s emotion, I can feel it. Every hour of every day, at home eating dinner, or in class doing trigonometry I know that Mrs Cooper has seen my drawings. Maybe she will tell other people about my art. I’ll be very special, and very rich. And then I won’t be sitting on the bleachers alone.
I hate movie critics. I hate when I really want to watch a movie, but I also want to fall asleep. I hate the term ‘pretty petticoat’. I hate when you get toilet water up your nose, and you can’t get the stains from the urinal soap out of your school tie. I hate it when girls talk to me as their charity for the day. I hate when actors are selfish, or when they pretend to be relatable, or when they pretend they are ugly. I really don’t like it when my nose bleeds, and sometimes I feel sick in the hallway after the bell goes.
The bell goes, which means I’m already late for class, because no one is on the field any more. My picture is of a helicopter, flying over a city that’s on fire. The helicopter doesn’t have a pilot, so I think maybe it will fall into the fire. I wonder what Mrs Cooper thinks will happen to it. Suddenly, I have a vision. I feel like I am having an aneurysm, like my aunty had when she was really little. I always thought aneurysm would feel really nice, maybe like drugs feel, but it hurts really bad but I still know what it is. I see my hand dangling over the bleacher, as my pencils role towards the grass. It looks like a nice picture, that I could draw, because sometimes I draw visions. I get, put my paper bag in the bin and walk to class, quite happy, because everyone is already in class, so they can’t be in the halls.