When I was in eighth grade, I drew a still life in Art 2. Everyone in the class had to bring an interesting object from home to add to the jumble already assembled so that we could create a giant piece that ebbed and flowed in its own randomness. One kid brought a koosh ball, some brought favorite figurines or small toys to add to the mess. There were pieces of musical instruments, smashed to bits out of frustration or carelessness. I brought a small puzzle with lots of lines and colors, which I elected not to draw.
As I sat down in front of our monstrosity I knew my job would be to figure out how to make this random pile of junk into some sort of organized picture. I sliced my 24x18 into eight pieces and began to draw. I found eight worlds that week, each sitting inside the still life, begging to be brought out. I had to decide which one I needed to bring to life.
That’s when I saw him. Staring out from my sketch was a small pig. He was gray and white, with little texture but his cork nose. Complete with a slit on his back, he was a bank. I looked for him in the still life, not even aware that I had drawn him until that very moment. There he sat, hanging off the crate he had been placed on. He was huge- oversized only to increase the saver’s profit, I imagine.
He winked at me.
I arched an eyebrow and glanced around the room. “Me?” I mouthed to him. He wouldn’t look at me again, but instead kept his eyes in the painted on cross-eyed position. I looked around the room again. No one seemed to have noticed anything, so I went back to my desk.
I chose a picture showing a beanie baby moose draped over a half naked GI Joe action figure, complete with king fu grippping action, but it wouldn’t work out. The lines wouldn’t come. Joe’s head would be too big, then it would be too small. I couldn’t get the texture of the moose right, and in a final bout of erasing fury I ripped a hole through the middle of my paper.
I crumpled my drawing into a ball and shot it into the trash can, trailing a path of eraser dust behind it. I slumped forward onto my desk, glowering at everyone else in the room that wasn’t having a hard time with their drawings.
The pig wouldn’t look at me. I stared him down, but he wouldn’t look at me. He kept his silly blue face contorted into the same idiotic look it had half an hour ago. “ok, fine” I told him.
I pulled out another sheet of paper and began to draw him. I drew a line that would be his droopy ears and then curved around to become the side of his head, back up for the body and around. I drew the cork that was jammed into the center of his blue glazed face, and I drew the silly expression, knowing that he was far smarter in real life than he lead on here in the classroom.
It wasn’t until I added color that he started to pop off the page at me. His head began to look round under the navy blue edges which turned to give way to cobalt highlights. His face took on even more expression than before. He controlled the way he wanted to look. He was the stupid god on the bottom right hand side of the page, surrounded by old guitar pieces, a broken Canon camera, a penguin and a tub of Playdoh.
The bell rang and I had to go, but once I was home I kept adding color. I had to finish drawing the blue pig- his story had to be told. I added a dark slit, tearing into his back where his five year old investors would give him their pocket money. I added colored texture to his cork and shine to his glazed parts, even his glossy, crossed eyes. He was beautiful.
When I stepped back, the picture was a blaze with fire. The background I had colored vivid red and purple with rich browns that glowed from inside. The objects around the blue pig were yellow and red, creating a warm flame around the block of icy blue at the bottom of the drawing. He was brilliant. The pig drew your eye to him and wouldn’t let go. I stared at him until my eyes watered and my mom came into my room to turn out my light because it was so late.
The next day at school I kept sneaking to my locker to gaze at the blue pig. I couldn’t wait to get to art class. If he was this brilliant in the picture, he had to be more so in real life. Why hadn’t I noticed it before?
When I got to the art room, I looked for the pig but coudn't find him. I looked under drapes and large sheets of paper, in closets and cabinets and under desks. He was gone. I learned later that he had been dropped and shattered, only to be thrown away. Heartbroken that my blue pig was gone, I walked to the trash can. Slowly leaning over the edge, I looked in and there he was, broken. The largest piece left was an ear and one crossed eye that looked up at me. He was surrounded by stubs of chalk, eraser shreds and pencil sharpener shavings. He winked at me and I let a tear fall into the trash can before laughing out loud.
"The Blue Pig" went on to win me three local awards and two at state. At one exhibition that was held after the judging, I stood near my pig, remembering how he had called to me, and now I listened as he called to others, but they didn't realize it. They walked by and said “oh! what an interesting pig!” or, “well, doesn’t he have character”. They saw him, but they did not see who he truly was.
It was a tragedy that the blue pig was lost not because he was a valued object, but because, like me, he was an artist.