So Flew Dodo
Once a shiny moon in 1681, a flock of gulls flew across the inky sky. Dodo watched in awe from her perch on the barge slip’s edge. Streamlined silhouettes cut across the orb.
‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. What lucky things. Such pretty wings,’ Dodo gushed, panning her bucked and beaked head from west to east in slow motion. When the flock vanished, she hopped down from the splintery post and waddled to her nest under the leafless tree.
‘Whoa. Gone are the leaves again. Gone is the grass. And my eggs in plain sight too…’
‘Whoa. Gone are my eggs again.’
She hopped around the collection of twigs and straw, disappointed.
‘Scarce, these days, they are. But I must find a–’
A lead ball zoomed from behind towards her grey bulk.
And so flew Dodo.
Had I been a meerkat
I’d have been a glad one.
Standing stiff on two slim legs,
tail stretched across the sand,
with buddies in a row-
A row of lookalikes
and dolphin smiles.
I’d stand quite a bit,
Neck taut, front legs tucked close
With black beady eyes
and supremely sensitive ears
Alert for a roar, a growl, a camouflaged pattern
Or a hiss, maybe a rattle,
perhaps a long neck punctuating the regular landscape.
I’d watch the line-
Where blue and green merge
I’d turn my head
I’d chew scuttling scorpions
And resume my watch
While my mates guzzle a millipede or two
And resume theirs
I’d stare at the horizon
For hours and days
(you get the idea)
Till the colours change
Or the grass’s direction,
or the mass of bovines,
I’d look forward
To nothing and everything
All at once
And be one happy meerkat
(along with other happy meerkats)
If I was one.
For some reason, Dad thought it was a good idea to preserve this scribble of an auto rickshaw, which (he says) I drew when I was about eight. Going through some really old folders during a cleaning mission, he digitized all my childhood drawings, and now I have all of them. Yay!
As a kid, I once asked my parents why grown-up artists drew funny-looking, purple people and scratched paint onto their canvases. Dad, a painter, made an unsuccessful attempt at explaining abstraction. Mom, an art historian, talked about different art movements, schools and styles. I was intrigued, though most of it missed my brain by miles.
Children’s art lacks abstraction. There is often little or no effect of light and shade. Technically, children rarely show a sense of perspective and very little display of relative proportion of elements. Promising children will always pick interesting viewpoints, consciously choose what to show and how. Their line-quality is almost always multi-dimensional, their strokes confident. They have reasons for every choice of colour, line and dot. Their drawings are more than a house-tree-sun-cloud ‘scenery.’
After the age of ten or so, children start to mimic the way adults draw. They try to make things look realistic, have grown-up themes, and they over-think. Then the charm evaporates. It’s true for any art. Filters of knowledge and technique do bring in some amount of inhibition and restraint in any creative effort, don’t they?
My friend Maddy gave me an interesting challenge some time back, to find examples of comic sans being used ‘well.’ The general reputation of it is of a font which everyone loves to hate, and I had some difficulty getting past the pancake people opinions on the internet to seek out some acceptable examples. In the end, Maddy was happy and I was left pondering. I actually found the font used quite aesthetically in some applications, which pointed at:
a) Every typeface, colour or treatment can be used ‘well’ to create aesthetically appealing stuff.
b) ‘well’ and ‘aesthetically appealing’ can be linked to some basic art grammar, but these terms are so subjective that one can be sure the examples I found will not be universally liked, even without prejudice.
Unlike artists, designers need to keep personal preferences at bay. Difficult, but possible. No my-baby-syndrome should affect our judgements either. Design is for people and not the aesthetically tuned micrority who can identify Gotham from Avenir.
These thoughts often come up in discussions at work, discussions that resemble the legendary Ouroboros.
Incidentally, the colour wheel is a wheel.
Anyway, a useful bit I’ve tried to internalize with regards to colour came from one of the most open-minded and (therefore?) creative persons at work: No colour is good or bad or even appropriate on its own, even in a context. It’s the proportion in which it’s used, the other colours around it (the palette), the application (physical prints, textures, the screen), and what light does to it.
Funnily, this colour-logic applies to everything in life!
Simple words Meanings layered I mean this You get that. Some, you catch Others flutter-by My mind, a sieve Your’s a fly-swat Gestures add Dimensions more Sundry expressions Yet none is exact apparent abstractions With logic you ruin Inferences gathered on the blind spot Simple words Meanings tiered of the original idea You grasp naught.
My grandfather lives
In the gaudy living-room
Of a millionaire
My grandma in an amulet
Made of her nail
Dangling on the neck of an heir
Two of my cousins
In two distant zoos
Two childhood pals
Put to medicinal use
There was news I heard
A couple of days back
My mother was on an exotic menu
A gourmet, to be exact
Last time I stole a goat
The villagers butchered my brother
It very well could have been
Young Stripey or dear old Taxi
As long as they kill, it’s not a bother
I must now hide,
think I hear a hunter…