Recently at a commencement ceremony, Neil Gaiman gave a very popular speech where he said something that resounded very loudly with the writer in me –
“Most of us only find our voice after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people.”
I’ve often read advice to that effect – find one author, read all his books and try very hard to copy his style. You’ll learn more from this than any other way. And I agree with that. So, I thought that perhaps we could use this advice in other areas of learning as well. (Yes, I know that we already do. That the very basics of teaching is to make the students copy and practise. But I hadn’t realized what that meant before. That it wasn’t such an old fashioned idea after all.)
I’m teaching myself to draw. The figures on the left and below are of the ‘Common Man‘ by the cartoonist R.K. Laxman who has been drawing political strips for The Times of India for the last sixty years.
The guy here is very famous in my country. (They have a bronze statue of him in Mumbai). I copied him out of a collection of Laxman’s cartoons I got out of the library recently. I’ve been sketching dozens of his figure for the last two days. So, I’m sharing these with you.
I’ve never had lessons, so I find this way of learning really quite brilliant. I’ve learnt to draw so many simple expressions. Cartoons are very different from the life sketches that I want to do, but still…it’s fascinating.