Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Once Upon a Tuba

Long before I started spinning yarns, I was pretty handy with a pencil. Graphite was my weapon of choice for any art assignment that didn't specify a medium. That is, until one fateful day... which really wasn't all that fateful. Sorry to mislead you like that.

'Twas my freshman year of college, six years before I first started writing fiction, and three years before I was rejected from a short story writing course because I was an art major.1 The professor spread out about 100 postcards on the floor and had each of us choose three to combine into a drawing.

One caught my eye right away: a work by my favorite artist, René Magritte.2 I snatched it up and scanned the rest of the cards as my choices quickly dwindled. In the end I snagged a Picasso collage I'd never seen before and a photo of a desert landscape to round out my triumvirate of awesome.

I knew I couldn't resort to my usual grayscale pencil drawing, not with a desert sunset involved, so for the first time ever I ventured into the realm of chalk pastels. I merged Magritte's tuba, suitcase, and cloth-ed woman with a Picasso moth and set them against the desert backdrop. The result:

I'd hoped to come up with some clever way to tie this all back to story writing, but since a picture is worth 1,000 words and this one comprises three pictures, I'm already way past my quota. Instead, I'll just leave you with this:

More art should have tubas in it.

1 That's a half-truth. I wasn't rejected for being an art major. I was rejected for not being an English major. It's probably just as well, since my other courses only afforded me 17 seconds of spare time that semester. (Seventeen seconds? / I can't write a tale that fast. / Maybe a haiku...)
2 Ceci n'est pas une apostille.


  1. My favorite.

    And don't feel too bad, most of my writing courses in college were utter garbage. Writing courses are where the lazy teachers go so they don't have to teach. "We're going to critique each other's work." What? We're here to learn not teach. Get it in gear, slacker! (And I have TWO writing degrees!)

  2. That's gorgeous. How the hell did you manage to digitize it so well?

  3. That's frickin bad ass! I loves it. I like to use pictures for writing additions as well. I'm a horrible sketcher so I tend to admire and save loads of pictures on my computer.

    I do draw a mean 3D box.

  4. Yay! Finally a real sampling of your art! It's thought provoking and somewhat disturbing--fits your profile, and I mean that in the nicest sort of way ;)

    Sure hope you got an A on the project!

    I never did too good in art classes--I mean, I could produce, but I always put off projects till the last minute because I didn't like having to create 'on demand.'

  5. Wow, another hidden talent, uncovered. That is really freaking fantastic. I hope you share more soon. I'd love to see it.
    I am blown away...

  6. Joe, you shouldn't generalize like that. The teachers weren't necessarily lazy; they may have just been going through talk show withdrawal and hoped some heated critiques might lead to a Jerry Springer situation.

    Matt, thanks! The process for digitizing this piece was actually quite a long, drawn-out affair. First, I took a picture of it (without the flash) with my brand new 3.1 megapixel camera. Then, I did nothing with it for ten years. And finally, late Tuesday night I cropped it, resized it, and posted it.

    Hannah, I'm glad you loves it. I sometimes draw a mean 3D box, too. You can tell it's mean because of the slanted eyebrows.

    Bridget, I believe "thought-provoking and disturbing" is an apt description for pretty much all my work, written or drawn. Thanks! (Though I should point out I did post a less-impressive-but-still-real sample of my art a few months ago, back when you weren't online much.)

    Heather, I do have a couple more I want to share, but I either need to scan in old photos/negatives, or figure out how best to photograph art behind glass with minimal reflection. But I will share, soon...ish.

  7. first off, LOVE the picture. It's awesome. Second off, wtf? You couldn't enter the class because you weren't an english major? That makes jack all sense.

  8. Falen, ooh capitalized LOVE. Also, to clarify, there were only twelve spots and the lit folk got precedence. Still, I was pretty miffed since I'm sure there were still a few openings when I asked, and I'd had multiple professors praise my (non-fiction) writing.