Do you have a scrap-book? Have you ever dug it out of a long-neglected closet only to discover your early childhood drawings? Well, that is exactly what I did a short while ago when my mother enlisted me in the task of retrieving some files from an old bedroom closet in her house. I unearthed my old scrap-book, which features all of my artistic accomplishments from the day I could finger-paint until the day I turned into a stubborn and fractious adolescent.
Well, I wasn’t a typical boy. Most of my scrapbook consists of unicorns and women. I never liked drawing what is traditionally considered the ‘male’ form, even though that is the body I am attracted to as an adult; I always liked drawing what is traditionally considered the ‘female’ form. To me, the ‘male’ form was chunky and unwieldy, and I saw a certain grace and wiliness in the ‘female’ form. Somehow it just resonated with me, even though I have XY chromosomes (whatever).
I’d like to share with you what I think are some of the most interesting works of ‘art’ I produced in my childhood. The portfolio was lovingly compiled by my mother, who went through a calligraphy phase in the early-to-mid ’80s. Apparently, looking back on my own work through the years, I provided the occasional annotation out of bashfulness, but I have included them here for the sake of authenticity.
This is a lady with fucked-up eyes and possibly broken legs, from 1983:
This I have now christened Superman meets Wonder Woman, from 6 February 1983:
Does anybody remember Charmkins? Probably not. It was a toy franchise from the ’80s. They made toy houses and figurines for you to play with. They also made toy figurine stamps. You could stamp a picture of a Charmkin character (usually a girl with pig-tails) on anything. I didn’t even remember they existed until I dug up this picture I drew in 1983:
And then there is my future wife:
Well, that turned out to be naught.
But I was created in the image of God, and God doesn’t make mistakes:
Don’t I look like Loretta Swit from M*A*S*H??
And then there is the oddly disabled unicorn:
Can somebody please help her?? She’s struggling.
And then the unicorn became more robust, and she gained a few makeup tips along the way:
She and her daughter will zap you with their magical powers of unicorn happiness!
Misty (as I’ve named her) needn’t be bound by skin colour. She can be red if she wants and give birth to a green unicorn with wings! This is the drawing that won me the classroom prize in the 1984 Reflections Art Contest. They were looking for creativity. Well, they found it:
In 1985, when I was in kindergarten, I was honoured with the opportunity to work with a lovely artist named Wendy. I remember her name was Wendy, and she had a short, ’80s brunette perm. This is a product of my lessons with her:
I remember my mother praising this drawing for its abstractness and mystery, but for me it was just normal. I wanted to do something different. Still-lives are boring to me. I want to draw people and animals doing and thinking things.
In 1985 in Sunday school (yes, I was raised as a Christian), I decided to draw a strange and perversely vicious Easter Bunny:
Yes. That Easter Bunny is hungrily scraping its way toward a basket-full of eggs with orange claws that match its eyelashes. (I’m sure the eggs are certified humane.)
Mrs Landmark, my Grade One teacher (7 year-olds for you in Britain) absconded with my precious October, 1985 Calendar:
I remember my mother saying she had a conference with Mrs Landmark in which Mrs Landmark expressed the concern that I was a little bit too effete and was worried that I would be bullied for it (and yet she liked my artwork). My mother said she defended me and expressed many positive points about my character. Mrs Landmark was full of shit. If you encounter a boy who is effeminate, you never penalise him for being effeminate–you penalise his bullies for bullying him.
And then there was the whole 1980s anti-drug campaign which didn’t work. Since then, Washington state, where I live, has fully legalized private cannabis use:
It’s strange how this anti-drug campaign seems so outmoded now, especially since it blindly encompasses harmless drugs like cannabis.
And then there was my beautiful drawing for Christmas of 1988 in Seattle:
I was already sifting through my scrapbook at this point, so it is amazing my mother captured this shitty drawing. It depicts Santa Claus flying over Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean, kind of like Oslo Fjord) toward downtown Seattle, with Mount Rainier in the background. Don’t judge me. I was ten years old.
So that is my artistic portfolio as a child. I think the main point to take away from this is to let your children be themselves and explore their own identities. I was an effeminate boy. Some boys will be masculine; some boys will be feminine. Likewise, some girls will be masculine; some girls will be feminine. Just be a loving, caring parent.