As You Like It: where IT all began…

by Alden Cole on February 24, 2014 · 0 comments

1959 • 2 drawings – 1 in watercolor, 1 in colored pencil – on 8.5″ x 11″ onion skin paper

Rosalind&OrlandoWPTo Begin at the Beginning: IT must have been the A+. I was finishing up freshman year at Thornton Academy in Saco, Maine, which I attended after graduating eighth grade from Dayton Consolidated School in a class of eight. Now I was one of over 200 freshman at TA, home of the Trojans. A bit overwhelmed at first, I eventually  got used to coping with the newness of so many other people my age, most of whom knew each other from grade school. It was an interesting time of developing an awareness of my latent zenophobia which in turn awakened a sense of competitiveness. I knew even then I was marching to a different drummer, but lived in denial, sublimating my desires through drawing. Remember the Clown? the one featured in my January 12 posting with the subject header: How About a Hand? To my knowledge there is no surviving AldenArt that was created between that clown drawn in 3rd grade and the drawings featured today.  Any other drawings I made during the six- year interim from ages 8 to 14 didn’t make the cuts of the teenage years; probably considered too childish. How interesting it would be to see those drawings now.

Elizabeth1WPSo who are the couple above? Rosalind and Orlando from  Shakespeare’s As You Like It, two of the four illustrations created for my freshman English term-paper on the play,  my first surviving character sketches. I obviously wanted to please Mr. Hargreaves the English teacher, because I went the extra mile to create an impressive project, tidily bound in a folder, using my newly acquired skills as a typist, plus being illustrated with some old photographic prints celebrating the bard and his connection to Stratford-on-Avon, contributed by my Aunt Charlotte. To top off this 30-page extravaganza designed to impress I created four hand-drawn illustrations. Besides the Rosalind and Orlando figures above, I included a b&w pencil sketch of Queen Elizabeth I, plus my first attempt, still in b&w, to illustrate a mise-en-scene, using figures from the play in an imagined landscape setting — my first foray into a field that would become a major interest in my life: history painting and the telling of stories.

Act??Scene??WPBy the way, my attempts to impress Mr. Hargreaves worked. I got an A+ on the paper. Who knows how much such a kudo at that time of libidinal transformation stimulated an interest in the artistic. I was well on my way to developing a passion for drawing that would become a determining factor in my evolving life. As Deepak Chopra states: What you pay attention to will become more important in your life. Indeed a statement of the obvious, but one that I ofttimes forget due to its obviousness,  which declares the simple power of focused attention to change ones life in a desired direction…

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