Hairy Maclary, 1986, 740mm x 570mm , Crayon on Paper.
I was back home in NZ recently and was reminded of this work I did many years ago. This is the first known drawing I ever did, back in 1986 when I was at Rawhiti Kindergarten on Konini place in Matamata, I had just turned four years old. When I was younger I was full of energy and loved to be outside, my Mother told me it was hard to make me sit as I never wanted to be inside, perhaps this is why I now prefer to work at night as there is no option, you can’t be distracted by looking out the window at a nice sunny day. I often think if I was brought up today i’d probably be on the borderline of being placed in the A.D.D category, one class mate from Kindergarten recently commented on facebook stating “Adam Barton used to bark at me like a dog and run me out of the sandpit, I genuinely thought he was going to bite me.”
My Mum found this drawing not long ago and framed it, it is now hanging on the wall in my parents house. I have a faint memory of this story, I spoke to my Mum to fill in the gaps, she says she remembers it like it was yesterday.
“You used to go to Kindergarten to play and make stuff in the sandpit, you had a bunch of friends who were boys that would go out with you, in the teachers eyes I guess you distracted the others by leading them astray as it was always about play. On this specific day (like many) you were a naughty boy and the teachers told you that you weren’t allowed to play in the sand pit until you had done something constructive and had to draw like the others. Finally they managed to capture you and sit you down at the table, Jillian Hazelhurst (teacher) grabbed a large piece of paper laid it down, and told you to draw something you liked. Hairy Maclary which was your favourite book had only just recently been released in 1983, so you grabbed that and opened it to the page of Hairy Maclary, expecting a scribble you then picked up a couple crayons and whipped this out as quickly as possible, you then looked up at them and said “all done now can I go and play outside in the sandpit.” The two teachers looked at each other, they couldn’t say anything as you had done exactly what they had said to do, so in a rush Jillian quickly grabbed another piece of paper and told you to draw something else, you then as quick as the last drew butter ball brown, which we also still have. I was contacted at the end of the day and brought in to be shown what you had done as they knew this was unusual. From there we knew that you had the ability to draw and knew we should do something with that, and not long after we enrolled you in private lessons and you have never looked back”
I can’t be grateful enough for my parents Joanne and Gordon, they recognised something I liked which I had shown potential in, and nurtured this. When I was a bit older at the age of six they enrolled me in private art classes with local art tutor Anne de Silva which I loved. By the time I was eight I had my own art exhibition of water colours, and by the age of ten I was using oils and then it all went from there. I guess I find myself privileged to have known what I wanted to do from a young age, apart from playing in the sand pit there was also art. My parents always went without to give us kids something in life and I love them both for this, they are the best and I hope I can repay them one day.
I now look at this drawing (Hairy Maclary) and see some interesting things within it, the first is the circular shape of the top of the head being a near perfect curve (I can’t even do this now), the second is the ears resemble equilateral triangles with all sides being the same value, the third is the perspective of the four legs – the two in front being one with the body, and the two behind the base line creates depth (they aren’t quite right but I was on the right track). The fourth is the colour – black dog and a red tongue. Most of all I guess it makes sense and you can make out what it is, check out Butterball Brown he is actually sitting licking his paw and has the face of ‘the cat that got the cream’, and like Hair Maclary he is colour coordinated – brown body, yellow stripes with a red tongue. Both these drawings also show continuous fluid lines where the crayon wouldn’t leave the page, producing individual complete shapes that meet reasonably flush.
This drawing is one that I am really proud of, I feel it is the best drawing I have ever done although I can barely remember doing it, so I thought I would share it with you all. To paint a better picture, below is my Kindy photo from 1986. Hairy Maclary drawings, Footrot Flats T-shirt, barking and chasing other kids and howling in class photo’s… I still like my belly to be scratched. I loved Footrot Flats, to be continued…