I ventured into Borders Books a couple of weeks ago on a quick errand and ran across this gem. How could I pass up a book titled Funky Things to Draw, especially at a "bargain" price of only $7.99?
The book features diagrams on how to draw all kinds of, well, funky things. "Funky," in the context of this collection, would seem to be a euphemism for "girly." There are no tanks or battleships in this book, but it does provide pointers on drawing elves, fairies, gnomes, pixies, sprites, and dryads. It even has a tutorial for drawing a pillywiggin! Now, I know a thing or two about fairies, or faeries, having read Doyle back in the day, yet I've never heard of a pillywiggin. Nor, apparently, have Wikipedia (job for you, zannah), or AskOxford. Lack of a Wikipedia reference casts considerable doubt as to the existence of such a thing. A Google search for the term, however, pulls up numerous links to lesbianism and Kate Bush, along with some World o' Warcraft stuff, most of which were only marginally enlightening... about pillywiggins, anyway. Funky Things to Draw identifies a pillywiggin as a "tiny flower fairy from Britain and Ireland.... [They] live at the foot of oak trees among the wildflowers... [and] ride bees."
I'll squirrel that away in my repository of might-be-useful-in-a-crossword-puzzle-so
The dryads and pillywiggins, along with a kelpie (which, as illustrated here, is indistinguishable from a horse) and a sylph, are from the "Fairies" section of the book. There's also a section on "Fairy Tale Princesses" which includes detail drawings of a glass slipper and a tiara; a "Baby Animals" section with kittens, puppies, and an Emperor Penguin chick; "Things in the Ocean" featuring a turtle, a lobster, and, uh, an adult Emperor Penguin; "Costumes & Fashion," -- like I said, "funky" basically means "girly," because there are no male fashions depicted. Granted, the "80's Girl," drawn like a particularly trampy version of Madonna from her "Lucky Star" video, has a playfully prurient appearance which might have an element of m-appeal; The "Fantasy" section, which is apparently a separate genre from "Fairies," offers Cupid playing a violin... what's up with that? and an I Dream of Jeannie style genie, a leather-bikini-clad Amazon Warrior, and the half-naked mermaid as featured on the book's cover.
"Life In the Garden" illustrates a variety of insects along with some reptiles, amphibians, and fuzzy-wuzzy bunnies and squirrels. The last section, "Horses," demonstrates how to draw an Andalusian (horse, not dog), an Appaloosa, a Clydesdale... and a Canadian Mountie. The Mountie is sitting on a horse, hence his inclusion here.
I have never been able to draw horses. I remember how, in grade school, girls would sit around endlessly drawing horses and ponies galloping along with flying manes, all quite impressive. One day, in math block in 6th-grade, our task was to use a grid system to copy a drawing of a cartoony-looking horse. My drawing looked awful. I just could not get the proportions right, even copying using a grid. That failure haunts me to this day. So believe it or not, the "Horses" section was one of the selling points of this book for me.
Okay, you don't have to believe it. The title was pretty much the selling-point of this book. Along with the Pam-Grier-as-Coffy sketch on the cover.
Still, horses abound in this book: in addition to the "Horses" section, there's the kelpie in the "Fairies" section, a unicorn in the "Fantasy" section, a knight on a bold steed in the "Fairy Tale Princesses" section, and a foal in the "Baby Animals" section. There are nearly as many horses in this book as there are Emperor Penguins. Maybe more, even.
Imagine how well I'd be able to draw horses if I'd been practicing for an hour a day every day since I was seven years old. Instead, I doubt that I've tried to draw seven horses, total, in that time. They've always intimidated me. Not the horses themselves -- okay, maybe a little -- but drawing them. Now that I have this funky book, however...
... I'm probably still not going to draw any horses. Drawing books, for me, are much like blank books. I buy them with good intentions, during brief flurries of inspiration, but I never get around to turning my intent into action. Somewhere in the closet I have a box full of blank books, lined and unlined, all of them still blank. I have two sketch pads I bought a few years ago, those wire-bound ones they sell at Wal-Mart. The wire is getting rusty, and the books remain largely blank. I think I sketched out storyboards for a photo shoot in one of them, using three or four pages.
I've wanted to be "an artist," or at least a "cartoonist," since I was a little kid. I just haven't wanted it enough. Not enough to actually work hard at getting better. I was, and am, easily discouraged. After all these years, that grade-school kid in me still wants to be a cartoonist. I buy books. I buy paper. I buy pencils and pens. And then, well, here I am, spending an hour typing a LiveJournal entry about drawing horses rather than, y'know, actually drawing horses. Or Amazon Warriors in leather bikinis.
I wonder, if I sat down and tried to draw that Canadian Mountie on his horse, tried ten or fifty or a hundred times, if I could reach the point where I could draw... a Canadian Mountie on a horse. A niche skill, to be sure, but hey, somebody had to design that Canadian twenty-five cent piece!
Funky Things to Draw. Cool. Woulda been neat if it had some half-tracks and steam locomotives in it. But at least now, if I ever run into Kate Bush at a party, I'll be able to discuss pillywiggins with her.