Remember When Fast Eddie Heard Vince’s Break?

That’s what this Nomar drawing was to me.

If the Pedro drawing was A New Hope, as established in my prior post (which is the one below this one, not above, stupid blog format), then this was The Phantom Menace (presuming high school and college were The Hobbit, wrong universe but bear with me). We talked about it already, I’m just rehashing because the continuity is hard to follow. The act of drawing the Nomar picture, the spark that was struck,¬†was the equivalent of Newman in a dive bar, shilling watered-down whiskey to bartenders and hearing that unmistakable snap from over his shoulder.

The funny thing is that while I was downright ecstatic when I finished this piece, I’ve since grown to dislike it more over the years, which is the reverse of what usually happens. With most of the art I create, I hate it from the get-go and over time I gradually come to terms with the fact that it might be OK after all. But it takes many years. If ever.

Mostly I don’t like the way his cap was rendered, there’s no gradation whatsoever. His face is a little muddy, too. And once I see something like that, that’s all I see.

But I embraced the artist in me once more because sometimes you simply need to do something you’re really good at. None of these pieces are groundbreaking, and I equate the ability to do them to a kind of autism — I can draw things as I see them — but that doesn’t mean it’s not a skill. In my case, most of the time it’s not even about the act of drawing or the piece itself, it’s just about sitting over a drafting table and feeling like you could do anything you wanted to and it would somehow work, that you were that goddamn good. The flash of intuition that tells you a certain stroke with a charcoal stick will look a certain way, even though you’ve never tried it, and you’re right. And you think, How did I know that? Circuitry that has existed in you since birth, since before that. In the womb. Mapped neurons inside a fetus no bigger than a pinhead. It’s alien in a way… I didn’t choose it, no more than I chose red hair or to be 5’10”. But I hope everyone has something like that in themselves, an instinct they can trust because it’s never been wrong. Mine is a purely impractical talent, but at least it feels like God smiled on me in some way, even if it’s a parlor trick.

I’m really not digging the Nomar piece these days. I think it shows very clearly that I hadn’t been near an inkwell in ten years, but I’m old enough now to take that into account. So I’m proud of it anyway. I remember that my brother-in-law hung it up in his house, and later that year I was there at a party, staying up most of the night drinking (as was usually the case at his and my sister’s parties), and after everyone had passed out or gone to bed I stood in front of this Nomar picture for a long time, nursing my beer and just looking at it. It was a symbol, you see. I heard the break.

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