Curling drawing by Owen Garratt
This Curling drawing is the first in a series
I n high school – in Wawota, Saskatchewan – say THAT 10 times fast – our Phys Ed class got press-ganged down to the curling rink.
I’d never curled before, but my grandpa did, and I’m afraid it colored my perceptions of the game. I thought it was something “old folks” did, like play bridge, drive slowly, and talk about the weather at least once in every single conversation.
What I didn’t understand was how difficult it was.
A Curling Primer
If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it’s essentially shuffleboard at full scale. It’s played on ice, and large rocks with handles on them are slid from one and to the other, trying to get as close as you can to “the button”, Which is the bull’s-eye on the target.
Meanwhile, two of the four players on the team are scrubbing the ice ahead of the rock. This not only helps control what the stone does but up until the last few years, it made a hell of a racket. Back then they used corn brooms that hit the ice with a terrific and satisfying wallop. The fourth player standing with the tip of his broom on the ice to give the thrower something to aim at.
It takes a real touch to give the rock just enough steam. Not enough and it won’t get there, but just a feather more and it seems to blast out the back of the “house”, which is the target painted on the ice.
Each team tries to place rocks in front of the button to block it. The “curling” part is that by putting a little spin on the rock, it can curl around and slide in behind another rock. So you can have rocks that block, and then curl a later rock in behind them.
And of course, there’s always the option of smashing the other team’s rocks out of the way with your rock. This seemed like the manly thing to do.
About the 4th end, which is what you call each turn, I did a dramatic and flukey double-takeout of the other team’s rocks and ended up smack on the button!
I bowed deeply, thanked the crowd for their support and generous applause, blew kisses to my most ardent supporters, and strode off the ice.
Our gym teacher, Dr. Mengele, was thoroughly chapped at me for leaving in the middle of a game, but I took the detention like a man, knowing that like The Beatles, I had ended my career on a spectacular high note.
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Then comes 300-ish hours of painstaking, garment-rending, hair-pulling, hunched-over, aspirin and coffee-fueled toil at the drawing table before collapsing at the finish line.
"I've always felt that artists who gabble on about 'how relaxing art is for them' are full of crap. I always thought Hemingway got it right: '...you sit down at a typewriter and open a vein'.
You've gotta bleed a little"
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