Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"A quarter of an inch"

If asked what is the favorite among my art supplies, it would have to be this. Yes, the answer surprises even me. People know I have favorite types of pens, I know which are my go-to nibs for calligraphy, I even have my favorite color pencils, design markers, the weight of sketching paper I prefer.

My T-square
0.05 micro (black ink pens - preferably Staedtler)
Calligraphy nibs #4,5, and the double-digit plain nib (will either be 99, 00, etc.)
Prismacolor (color pencils & design markers)
70 lb-100 lb Canson (paper for all types of graphic art mediums)

But what it all boils down to is this T-square. In junior high, it was one of a few items I needed for my toolkit in Draft/Graphics class. It was a half-semester course, if I remember correctly, with Woodshop being the second half of the term. Led by Mr. Pool, we were given geometric shapes to draw in 3-dimensional form with all sides visible. My classmate, and friend, could always draw shapes perfectly.
"Not an inch off. Good job!" Pool would praise her as he went around each table. We had those draftsmen-type desks that professional animators, cartoonists, and fine artists used.

"Uh-oh. You're off a quarter of an inch here and here! And 3/4 here, too." Pool would always tell me.
He would mark up my paper with his red pen.
My friend, who sat next to me, would get an A+ and I would get Cs. Few art-related classes frustrated me as much as this course and I grew jealous of my friend's ability to craft perfect shapes. Yet, she was so nice, sincere, and humble that I never reached pure envy for her. I worked harder but couldn't achieve her seeming perfection. However, we were friends outside of class, which was an achievement for me at the time, and when I mentioned that she could become an engineer with her drafting skills, she actually looked annoyed by my suggestion. She told me she wished she could do illustrations as I did. That was some consolation.

My T-square became a repository for my creativity while sulking away in Graphics class. No where did this important drafting tool draw so much attention than when I began to scribble on it. A few other kids wrote their names, crushes, a boyfriend/girlfriend, and maybe a symbol or two, but, I did much more. Having a mad crush on the rapper/dancer M.C. Hammer at the time, especially because of his breakout track "U Can't Touch This!" became my motto and doodled the pop culture catchphrase all over the T-square in pencil with some in ink. If you look closely, I even drew Hammer's likeness in cartoon style!

I had planned at the end of the half-semester to erase most of the scribblings, but the more my classmates admired or despised my artwork, the more I drew on the T-square, not knowing at the time I was using it as a catharsis for my daily anger, frustration, isolation, and terror at being bullied and not having enough friends.

Even Mr. Pool took a look at my sketchings on the T-square and made what sounded like approval hums.

Mr. Pool is now long gone. That 'perfect grades' friend? Whose face and kindness I now vaguely remember but have long forgotten her name. We lose track as human beings.

Other art supplies have been used up, disposed of, thrown out when they dried, cracked, became old, or simply outlived their usefulness have been numerous over the years, but the T-square remains...

When I have my own professional studio, I mean to hang it up in a place of honor beside my desk. To remind me, no matter how far I come in life, of the dork who wore over-sized glasses, had a scrawny body, and who scribbled out her infatuation for M.C. Hammer on a drafting tool.

P.S. I still wear glasses, albeit, more fashionable and better-fitted to my face. I'm heavier now. I'm still a dork. :)

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