Draw Something Resembling Anything

And the drawing is...
Guess it? This was an easy one.

Our boys are growing up so fast. Once upon a time, they were connected to me. Then, hubby went and cut the umbilical cord. Ever since then I’ve been herding cats, desperately hoping to catch them and hold them long enough to get some quality time. These days they’re connected to other things…like their iPads, Xbox360, or their Mac. These are their new lifelines. So, I’ve done the only thing I could do. I’ve decided to meet them on their ground. I text them and I send them game requests. I’d friend them on Facebook if they had Facebook pages.

One game I play with my sons is DrawSomething, which is an online version of Pictionary. You draw something and the person you’re playing with attempts to determine what the scribbles you just traced onto the screen of your device mean. My first world problem is that it’s hard to draw a detailed image on an iPhone (even the iPhone 5 with its larger screen). Luke is a natural born artist. He has always enjoyed drawing and his creations on this app are quite detailed and contain appropriate contextual clues so that the amount of guesswork is deeply reduced. Joe…well…let’s just say his drawings are basic. They require a lot of creative thinking on my part. I don’t always know where he’s headed with his art but, as his mother, I feel it’s not an option to guess incorrectly. So, this simple game of drawing becomes a game of mental gymnastics for me. I become Sherlock Holmes. To solve the mystery, I must enter into the mind of the drawer who, in this case, is an 11 year old boy.

Tonight, after weeks of pestering him mercilessly, Joe finally acquiesced and sent me a drawing. This drawing was of a large brown object, which I eventually conjectured was an animal despite the fact that it seemed to be headless. I stared at it blankly for a few seconds and then traveled into the depths of Joe’s frenetic mind. I had an idea but had to verify my mental image with the letters provided for the drawing. Thankfully, tonight’s drawing was an easy one. You see, where I will draw the clue I think I can represent most easily for the other person’s interpretation, Joe most often chooses to draw clues that have a personal meaning for him. Translation: I see a lot of shark, prehistoric creatures, Star Wars, and superhero drawings. Tonight’s was no different. The minute I entered into Joe’s 11 year old brain, I could see where he had gone. To the ice age, of course. Why not?

I love that Joe is not the least bit concerned about his drawings. He doesn’t wonder if they will be understood. He draws what he likes, no matter how hard it might be to convey. I imagine that Joe is so used to meeting the world the way he is required to, so used to following conventions that don’t work for him or even make sense to him, that when it comes to this game he feels free to be himself. And, that is an awesome, wondrous thing. I enjoy these occasional opportunities to get inside his head. I figure it’s the closest I will ever be to him again.


All I Know About Art I Learned From DrawSomething

I am no artist, especially not on an iPhone with my fat finger as the artistic implement, but being creative is fun.

At the request of my husband, I downloaded the DrawSomething app, which is kind of like Pictionary for your phone. You’re given a choice of words to draw, each with different possible points to accumulate based on the potential difficulty of the word. For the record, I did not want to download this app because I’ve been banned from playing Pictionary with my family. They believe I become too competitive and then belligerent. Truth is, my mom and I would always end up as partners while my sisters would be partners. My mother is an artistic soul and while she was busy creating a work of art, my sister Julie would get three lines into a stick figure horse, my sister Kathy would guess the clue, and my mother and I would go down in a ball of flames. I hate to lose. I do. But losing to three lines of a stick figure horse while my mother sketches the outline of her equine masterpiece was more than I could bear. Lesson #1: The truly artistic should never play timed drawing games with people who like to win. They should play DrawSomething instead.

Although my spouse (the one who begged me to download the app so we could play) never plays with me, other friends have started games with me and gotten me addicted. Now, I have friends who are infinitely more gifted than I am with artistic skills. Some of them create miniature works of art on their phone or iPad and make it easy for me to guess the answer. Other friends are a bit more like me, and I have to employ my creative mind to guess what in the holy hell they just drew. I suppose the thing that keeps me going when a friend draws a Scotty dog that looks like it’s a black unicorn wearing a ugly sweater is that this is a cooperative game, not a competitive one. I don’t want my friend to think that her drawing was indecipherable, so I work hard to envision her thought process. Sometimes, it’s not easy. Lesson #2: Sometimes art truly is in the eyes of the beholder.

It’s interesting to see the different ways unique individuals try to bring a clue to life. What works for one person in a guessing game does not always work for the next person. One person might choose the term “blizzard” and try to convey a snowstorm. Another person might choose a Dairy Queen treat to convey that same idea. You never know what the person guessing your clue might have in their mental arsenal to help them solve your drawing. You just do the best you can with what you have and leave the rest to interpretation. And in the end, you hope the friend you’re playing with doesn’t start to wonder about you too much when the word you choose to draw is “poop” because you know exactly how to depict an appropriate, steaming pile of doggie do. Lesson #3: Art is subjective. Sometimes a person’s best work of art might be a representation of canine feces, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Some of us are Rembrandts and some of us are Picassos. We can’t all create a flawless work of artistic realism. Some of us look at things a bit differently and put our eyeballs in the wrong spot. I’m glad hubby begged me to download that silly app. It has reminded me how fun it is to draw like I did when I was a kid. Getting back to my inner child has been a trip. I’m not afraid to admit that I’ve saved some of my iPhone artistic creations because I was so proud of them. Now, I just need to figure out how to put them on a virtual fridge using virtual magnets.