I spent the first half of my art lesson creating a mind-map of all the different possibilities which linked in with my new project theme.
Everyone in my class was completely engrossed in their pieces, and I felt a little out of place. I had taken art because I was okay at it… but this was paid education, and all these kids probably got private tutors and the like to help them improve vastly.
Once my mind-map was done, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I’d have to choose one of the paths on the crowded page later. I tapped the eraser end of my pencil on the page, pursing my lips.
The sound of scraping chair and footsteps made me jump, the sound was abrupt and it shattered the peaceful silence of the art studio.
Rowan slipped into the chair next to me, sketchpad in hand. He pulled out one of his earplugs and said, “you look a little lost, there.”
“I feel a little bit lost.” I replied, sighing.
“Stuck?” He asked, the corners of his mouth pulling into a smile. While I felt a little freaked out by my classmate’s sudden friendliness, I couldn’t find it in myself to reject it. It was welcoming in such a huge and scary place.
“Yeah,” I shrugged, “there’s just a lot of stuff which you can do with this theme, you know?”
“Not so easy anymore, right?” Rowan laughed quietly, flipping his pad’s pages over and I caught site of some startlingly realistic, and some shockingly graphic, pieces of artwork. He seemed to notice me eyeing his workbook up, and he smiled sheepishly, giving me a meek shrug.
“You’re a really great artist.” I noted, more to myself than to him.
“Thanks.” He replied awkwardly, shifting on his stool.
“I guess you get pretty good at art if you enjoy it.”
“Yeah, I draw a lot. Practice makes perfect and all.”
I hummed in agreement, smoothing my palm out against the rough side of my thick page. This was always the hard part. The first piece of artwork in my sketchpad. I always wanted it to be amazing, to be striking and inviting but it usually just ended up as an oddly proportioned figure.
In a bid to take my mind off of the white expanse in front of me, I turned to Rowan, “how long’ve you been here?”
He looked up from the quite, quite terrifying portrait of a crazy human/rabbit hybrid he was shading and shrugged, clearing his throat. “Since I was eleven. So basically through all of the years.”
“Wow…” I murmured, “do you board?”
Something flickered in his expression and he coughed again, glancing behind us, “yeah.”
“Oh, me too! We should eat breakfast together… or something. You know, ‘cause I have, like, no friends here at all.” I babbled, feeling my face flush again.
“Yeah. Yeah. That’d be nice.” The smile that spread across his face was genuine and it melted my heart. I swivelled around on my chair again, so I was facing my book. I kept glancing at Rowan as he worked, fascinated by the way he manipulated the lines and smudges into perfectly proportion images of strange hybrid humans. As I stared and stared and stared, I began to catch sight of small silvery lines all over his hands and I frowned, squinting hard.
“You alright over there?” He said, raising his eyebrows at me. I blinked in surprise and nodded.
“Do you play sports?”
“Not really, why?”
“Oh… never mind.” I shook my head, feeling as though it would be intrusive to ask about scars because they could sometimes be very personal.
“No, no! What is it?” He pressed, amusement shining in his vivid green eyes.
I tossed my head back and forth again, “it’s really nothing.”
“Tell me!” He drew out the “e” on “me” for a long time, trying his very best to be annoying and succeeded.
“You just have little scars all over your fingers, so I thought you might to archery or something. You know, my friend used to knick her fingers on her arrows all the time when we played together.” I finally told him.
For a moment, and I only caught it because I had been looking at his face very intently, a shadow passed across his face. Rowan, it seemed, was not only a fantastic artist, but a fabulous actor. He recovered from his shock by the time I had blinked and just shook his head.
“Ry – uh, I mean, my brother and I used to play in the woods and went tree-climbing. Sometimes I’d catch my hands and arms on the little braches and rough bark, is all.” It was a convincing lie, but somehow I struggled to believe it. Although I knew it was not at all my place to question a stranger, so I just made a sound of agreement and looked away from him.
Sighing, I resigned myself to the fact I was out of practice and my drawing was not going to be exceedingly brilliant. So I put pencil to paper and let my hand dictate how my art would take form.