A Horse Is A Horse Of Course Of Course

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Yesterday evening when I got home from work and then my usual dinner [1], I found that my mother had sent me a package with what I view to be a particularly ugly horse.  After getting it, I shared that I had received my drawing and found that there was a surprisingly large amount of people that wanted to see my poor efforts at drawing as a sixth grader.  To be sure, I have a great interest in art and art criticism [2] and enjoy looking at art, as at least a few people can attest to.  I do not, however, consider myself to be a particularly talented person when it comes to visual art and this drawing is a big part of the reason why.  I will do something unusual in this discussion, and that is take this particular modest drawing and explain it from a variety of different perspectives, as I take it to be an important sort of artifact in who I am as a person and what I think about art and also my own personality and approach to life.  I hope that although this discussion may be a bit odd that it is not too confusing for others to follow along, as I tend to be concerned that explaining something so oddly personal to me is not always easy for others to understand.

This particular drawing of a horse was one I made during the sixth grade as part of a school assignment.  In our English class, we had been reading a historical novel about a poor abused and put-upon horse that somehow managed to become an important member of the lineage of many notable ancestral lines of horses.  For some bizarre reason I could relate very strongly to this particular horse.  After all, I grew up in the country, and both sides of my family were familiar with taking care of horses in our property, and I could certainly identify with horses as being skittish and nervous and sensitive animals that suffered greatly from trauma and abuse [3] and I could also identify with a put-upon being that had deep longings for nobility.  So it was that when it came time for us to draw our horses that I had a desire to draw a beautiful and noble steed on a grassy hill.

That is not, it should be noted, what I ended up drawing.  From my viewpoint, at least, the horse I ended up drawing in my pencil sketch was a deformed and ugly horse in what looks like a dark and post-apocalyptic setting.  Indeed, I was greatly disturbed by my drawing and thought it a massive failure.  There are many artists who intentionally draw what is dark and disturbing, but I had wanted to draw something conventional and beautiful and ended up with something far more unpleasant looking.  I do not think it a noble standard to aspire to create that which is dark and troubling and unpleasant, but I consider it far more unhappy of a fate to try to draw something that meets conventional standards of beauty and end up drawing something hideously ugly and repulsive.  It is one thing to aim at a poor target and hit it, for at least one can take credit for having achieved one’s aims, but when one aims at a good target and completely misses it, there is satisfaction neither in the result nor in one’s sense of accuracy.  The result of the work, and other more private works I drew within the next few years, convinced me that visual art was not a field I wanted to devote a great deal of time and effort to, as it brought me no pleasure to create art that I found distressing and disturbing in nature, which I took to be evidence of something rather dark inside of me that made everything I created come out far less pleasant and beautiful than I wished and intended.

As it happens, I find that this particular distress has been somewhat common in my own artistic and creative endeavors in general.  As a university student I took a studio course in building science one semester that was taught by a skilled modernist architect named Pierre Koenig, who taught at the University of Southern California for many years.  This tactful and thoughtful gentleman, responsible for some amazing buildings himself as a designer, commented on my drawings of buildings that I drew the building the way it was and not the way it should be.  This has been true of my writing as much as my drawing.  Although I have tried with the utmost of my efforts throughout life in my creation and in my behavior to live up to noble and high ideals, I find myself continually horrified by the unpleasant nature of the real in my life.  I have never been able to escape the grim nature of my life and personal background in experience in any area of life that I turn my attention to.  Wherever I go, whatever I read, and certainly whatever I do and create, I am powerfully affected by the dark reality of an unpleasant world.  So it has always been, and so, I often anxiously worry, will always be the case as long as I live and breathe on this earth.

And yet I have found that other people have viewed this drawing far more favorably than I have.  While I look at this drawing and see the dark abyss and horrors inside of my heart and mind and spirit, and the burdens and evil of my existence, others have been far more appreciative and far less critical of this particular effort.  I found in the sixth grade to my surprise that my teachers found my drawing to be the “best surrealist drawing” in the class, although I thought that they were trying to put the kindest face on it.  The horse in the drawing would not appear too out of place in Dali’s own far more accomplished efforts, although he created work that gives me a similar disturbed feeling to my own artistic efforts.  Those who have commented on my drawing once I posted it online have been similarly kind, although I am not sure how how much they appreciate the drawing itself or the window it shows into my dark and troubled soul.  Either way, I have been far more critical than other people have been on the drawing.  Perhaps with a bit of distance from the personal context of the drawing, it only appears to be a whimsical and odd artistic effort from someone of modest talent but striking originality and quirkiness.

Perhaps this is all too much ado to make about a drawing like this.  This is not the sort of work, after all, that would ever appear in an art museum to adoring fans or sold for high dollar amounts at an auction.  It is at best an odd, at worst a hideously ugly, drawing created by a middle school student for a class assignment that went disastrously counter to plans.  Most of these efforts are forgotten and destroyed.  It takes a rare breed of person to keep around a work that they themselves believe to be unpleasant, lacking in accomplishment, and deeply disturbing in import.  For better or worse, I am the sort of person that keeps and even shows off that which I consider to be loathsome and unpleasant about myself because I believe it to be an honest portrayal of the darkness inside of me.  If you stare into the abyss of your own dark heart enough as a gloomy and sensitive child, you create art like this.  And you never want to draw anything like this ever again, deciding it would be better not to draw at all than to inflict this upon a world.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/04/04/not-all-interruptions-are-unwelcome/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/01/22/book-review-the-parthenon-code-mankinds-history-in-marble/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/01/05/book-review-the-history-of-chivalry-and-armor/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/09/15/book-review-1066-the-hidden-history-in-the-bayeux-tapestry/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/07/15/book-review-the-world-of-art/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/12/04/non-book-review-arthurian-animation/

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2015/10/02/any-more-than-horses/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Horse Is A Horse Of Course Of Course

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Portrait Revolution | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: It’s Not My Fault, So Please Don’t Trip | Edge Induced Cohesion

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