Dad’s Bicycle

One of the challenges of drawing, Bicycle Messenger 1954, (previously posted) was the bicycle itself. It took a great deal of concentration to bring all the moving parts and shadows into balance, much like learning to ride a bike in the first place. The challenge was really rewarding, however, so I wanted to try another bicycle drawing. I had an old photo, only about 3”x 2”, taken maybe around 1945 of my dad, brother and sister gathered around his bicycle. So I got out my “lapbook” easel, another old school pencil and piece of cheap copy paper and set to it. The challenge was on and just as difficult as when I drew the Bicycle Messenger 1954, with my young children bouncing around, interruptions from friends dropping by and all the other activities associated with running a family.

Dad's Bike

Aside from the challenge of the subject matter, the kitchen table itself posed an additional problem. My x-husband had made it out of an old telephone cable top placed upon a peach-colored ceramic sewer pipe. He never got around to anchoring it so if you leaned too heavily on one side, it would naturally tip over. The tension of making sure that everyone was aware of that at all times was exhausting. Glasses of milk and dinner plates landed on the floor with a regularity that begged for comic relief.

I remember the very evening that I drew the front tire on this bicycle. My x-husband was sitting at the table with a friend of his, the children were gathered around, a few dishes from dinner had been pushed aside and I had found a spot to in the midst of this chaos to lean my homemade easel against the table and continue to work on this drawing. The chatter from the children and the conversation between my x-husband and his friend faded in and out of my mind as I let the front tire emerge like magic onto the paper in front of me. I felt exhilarated to see it take shape. Years later I came across a quote that connected me with that moment of conquering those spokes and shadows. I wrote it in my journal, a statement made by Gabriel Shaffer, a young, eclectic, mixed-media artist from Asheville, N.C.

“I believe that artists are healers. Every time an artist finishes a work they care for, evil loses a small piece of its power. We live in a lost time, so it is every artists’ responsibility to contribute their own piece to the light, that will hopefully someday dawn upon the human race.”

Ah, the power of art.


About Kathleen Franks

Kathleen Franks is a writer, artist, storyteller, and community volunteer based in Berkeley, CA
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