Wednesday, February 15, 2012

sentimental about coral

Abandoned casita - a place to hide from the rain.

Angry bull.

When I was a young 'un, our family had two collections of wildlife encyclopedias - about three feet worth of bookshelf - and I used to read them cover to cover, over and over. I drew hundreds of nature scenes, probably thousands of animals, but I think the scenes I drew the most were coral reefs.

There was a fair bit of variety to those aquatic cross-sections... anemones, clownfish, antler-like branches of coral. I distinctly remember the first time I drew a fish that looked three-dimensional - I must have been four or five years old. It was an HB pencil drawing of a salmon, twisting back on itself, caught halfway through a turn. I remember leaning the drawing up against the wall and laying on my belly and staring at it for a long, long time, being somewhat amazed that I somehow drew it with my own hands, without looking at a book.

Today while I was snorkeling I passed over a bunch of coral, splayed out and dispersed just the way I used to draw it thirty-four years ago. All sorts of wonderful fish floated by - I can't remember their names, but their colours and shapes are as familiar to me as if I read those wildlife encyclopedias a year ago. Even their relative sizes, the depth of water, which fish are in schools and which aren't - I was drawing some startlingly accurate drawings at that age. Thinking back to those drawings, I always thought I was just drawing fish out of my head, but today I realized it was just too accurate. I must have referenced fish and plants and coral from the encyclopedias, and actually understood something about how it all fits together.

It's not possible to describe how grateful I am to be reliving those childhood fantasies - to be swimming through scenes that I dreamed about, drew and imagined for years. 

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