I stood there with my eyes locked on my opponent. He simply sat there, with no readable expression. Even after our epic battle. there seemed to be a cool vibe emanating from every inch of him. I looked down at the weapons I had chosen at the beginning of this assignment: an HB pencil and a standard white eraser. Before this epic battle, each item had been in perfect condition. Before my pencil had touched that formidable warrior, that bleached 18″ x 24″ sketch pad, my simple yet effective writing implement had been perfectly sharpened, ready and able to draw for me whatever I asked of it.
But as soon as I laid led to paper, I realized I had met my match. We struggled as I tried to draw a couch in two-point perspective. I tried every maneuver in my grand arsenal. I brought in reinforcements, the flexible cork-backed ruler, but even that was no match for the sketch pad. He was too strong for me, he refused to concede, to show for me the couch I had in mind. My HB worked magnificently, and for a time I thought I would actually win. But the paper, this unbeatable foe, broke the pencil led as if it were thinner than a blade of grass and laughed in the face of my eraser.
I threw my ammunition down on the table. Forfeiting, and failing at my couch drawing mission.
“I think you’re just thinking too much. Just, clear your head, don’t think”, my instructor calmly told me at the end of class. I couldn’t help but notice he possessed the same coolness the sketch pad had displayed. A cohort perhaps? I realized it wouldn’t surprise me.
“We’ll cover it again in the next class. But feel free to practice until then.” he said. To me or to the other students in the class I couldn’t tell. He struck me as an unusual teacher, but not in any identifiable way. An admirable trait to some extent.
Even though I found it a possibility that he was part of the conniving pad’s plan, and I found his teaching method offbeat, his advice seemed to warrant more exploration. I decided it would be wise to clear my head, and prepare myself for the next battle that I knew wouldn’t be far off. I had heard of accomplished artists seeking the outdoors as a way to clear their mind or find inspiration. Being a city dweller by nature, the thought of traversing through actual nature looked to me like it would have the opposite effect I was seeking. But there was a discreet bench, on a simple corner near my well lived in 4th floor apartment, that I thought might offer the desired serenity and inspiration. So, with the November weather being astoundingly agreeable on the day it all happened, that is where I went.
It wasn’t a particularly incredible street: nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing of much exciting interest.
Setting my sketch pad down, I took up residence on a small wooden bench that served as the bus stop on the corner. The bench had been green at one point but a good deal of the paint had worn off, leaving the natural light tan color of the wood. Sitting in the right corner of the bench I twisted myself slightly to my left, effectively nestling myself into the curves of the seat. I then pulled my left knee up, hugging it to my chest. Considering the hard nature of the wooden bench, this was as comfortable as I could get, but it suited me just fine.
I’d been on this bench dozens of times before, and I’d passed it by hundreds more. Still I took in my surroundings, the sights and sounds of the buildings around me. Behind my seat was an empty office building for sale. It lacked any great luster and seemed to me as though it would be for sale for quite some time. It also seemed to me that it oddly resembled the settings of several horror movies. I made a note to mention it to the AV students at the college.
Across from me was the edge of another large office building that wrapped around to the front of the street. This building was very similar to the one behind me except this one was generally occupied on a regular basis. I’m not sure if anyone knew exactly what went on in this building. All that was certain was that well dressed men and woman came and went from the structure, with bland looking briefcases and terribly bored expressions on their faces. Next to that building was a smaller one story shop. The large window boasted attractive cardboard cutouts of various singers and musicians, some decorative objects hanging from the ceiling and a bright neon sign that read “Spin Cycle”. It was a trendy music store, carrying mainly records and retro memorabilia. But it pretty much cost money just to look in the window.
To the right of Spin Cycle was a small coffee shop. Not being much of a coffee drinker myself, all I can tell you about the place is that the lettering on the logo in the window matched the faded color and quality of the bench I sat on. Beyond the coffee shop and the building behind me were several more utterly nondescript offices and apartment buildings, interspersed with the occasional old fashioned lamp post and “Keep Our City Clean” trash bins. To the credit of the city council those small red and white signs urging pedestrians to clean up their trash seemed to have done their job well. The entire street was simple but clean and tasteful; a rare sight in a city.
Although on that day the street I sat on felt nothing like a typical city. There was one car parked a few hundred feet to my right. It was an older car, maybe from the 1950’s. It was red with gray and gold paint randomly splattered and strewn about on the body of the car. From this observation alone I surmised that the owner of the vehicle suffered from complete color blindness.
Aside from this car there were no other vehicles in sight; not even the occasional motorist passing by on his way to whatever his destination might’ve been. There was, in fact, no evidence of life anywhere on the street, beyond myself that is. I began to think that this was not the most excellent location for inspiration to strike. Unless by some miracle the crumpled newspaper that flew by when the wind picked up struck gold within me.
To no great surprise, I suppose, no miraculous epiphany occurred.
I pulled my knee closer to my body and looked up at the sky. It was late in the afternoon by then; still light out but the sun had hidden itself behind some grey clouds, apparently finding this once lively street as dull as I did.
I returned my gaze to the Spin Cycle store front when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. Something new, something I hadn’t seen before. It was small, black and somewhat round. It looked to be no more than two feet tall. This new object could have been easily mistaken for some inanimate item; a small trash bag, a miniature black bean bag chair, a tire, anything of the like. Had it not moved I’m sure I would have written it off as nothing of importance. But the little creature shifted from one tiny foot to another. By doing so he turned himself just enough for me to get a better look at him. He was shaped like a teardrop, with two very little yellow feet supporting him. His feet appeared to come straight from his round belly, as his legs, if he had any, were too small to be visible from my vantage point. His head was round, jet black, and shone a little in the small rays of light that began showing through the clouds. Set perfectly in the center of that head were two very round, blue-green eyes, spaced a couple of inches apart. Just below his shining eyes sat a small yellow beak. Below his beak a small white patch on his chest was visible, but the majority of it was apparently blocked by the small black hooded sweatshirt he wore. Just below his neck, if he even had a neck, on ether side of his body were two chubby arms that were comparable in size to his entire torso.
If I had to put forth a guess, I would have said it was a small penguin wearing a hooded black sweatshirt. In fact that was the only logical conclusion I could come to, which I imagine might sound ridiculous, what with that statement lacking any apparent logic whatsoever. But I am known for being logical and barring any recent brain injury I had no knowledge of, I knew my guess must have been correct.
So the newcomer to the street across from me was a two foot tall penguin. He didn’t quite look like a Gentoo, he had no white on his face. Of all the penguins I’ve ever seen, I’d have said he looked remarkably similar to an Adélie. Not that I’ve ever encountered a penguin on the city street before, especially not one that wore a tiny sweatshirt. But I gathered almost instantly that this was a situation that not many people had come across before.
The penguin stood on the street a few dozen feet from the record store and the coffee shop. He shifted his weight back and forth a few times, padded down the pockets at the front of his sweatshirt, then shifted again. It looked as though he was waiting for someone. He lifted his left arm and looked at a nonexistent watch.
Impatient little fellow.
But as if cued by the little bird’s anxious manner the door to the record store suddenly flew open, revealing a tall, thin, and overall rather lanky figure. As the newest arrival to this previously empty street made his way out of the store I could see him more clearly. He was a young, in his early twenties most likely. He wore a grey shirt under an olive green jacket. His jeans and sneakers were both quite dark, so much so that I could hardly see where one ended and the other began. His hair was light brown, parted on his left with some of it falling over the right side of his face. His large blue eyes were almost completely hidden behind even larger black rimmed glasses.
In his left arm he held several large books with paper sticking out at odd angles. He had over his left shoulder a messenger bag, tan and well worn. I couldn’t help but wonder why it was that the heavy books were held in his arms rather than in the bag. The boy wrestled with the tomes he carried as he looked down at a watch her wore on his left wrist. He had an air of haste about him, as if he were running late and couldn’t quite compose himself. But even with his hurried expression he stayed where he was, standing just outside Spin Cycle.
The penguin immediately noticed the boy’s arrival and began marching steadily towards him. For such a small fellow with incredibly tiny legs he walked with an amazingly speedy determination. In just a matter of seconds he had crossed the few dozen feet that had been between him and his human target. The young man though, still appearing hurried for some reason, didn’t seem to be waiting for anyone, especially not a penguin I dare say, so I believe it came as somewhat of a shock to him when he looked down and saw a short, unusually anthropomorphized penguin tugging gently on his right pant leg.
The boy looked down at the penguin and, with more composure than anyone ought to display in such a situation, he slowly knelt down, bridging the 4-some-odd foot distance between him and the little creature begging his attention.
The penguin’s demeanor was that of someone who had just discovered some wonderfully exhilarating news and if he didn’t share it, it would most certainly cause a fantastic explosion. Not wanting to experience this explosion, the penguin excitedly hopped up and down, his eyes shining with urgency, as he began speaking to the boy. The boy stared at him with an incredulous expression on his face, his eyes wide in amazement. I imagine his wide eyes were also due, at least in some small manner, to the weight of the books he still held. But he didn’t put his books down, nor did he move even an inch from the penguin.
By this point my interest had been piqued considerably. I put both my feet on the ground and moved forward to the edge of the bench; to the point where if I had gone any further I would fall off. I hunched my shoulders so I could lean in as close as possible to this very interesting conversation. But even in this perfect information gathering (or as some misguided people call it, “eavesdropping”) position I was just too far away to hear any of the penguin’s words. So I simply watched as the penguin gestured wildly while carrying on his one-sided conversation.
Whatever sentiments this penguin had intended to convey he did so in a relatively brief period of time. Not long after he walked up to the young man on the sidewalk and began his dialogue he slowed his gestures to a stop. I realized then that he had stopped talking and he was looking to the boy, waiting for some kind of response.
The boy blinked and shook his head a little, bringing himself back from the penguin induced stupor. His expression clearly showed confusion, amazement, and still a hint of haste. Still kneeling by the penguin, he placed his heavy books on the ground beside him in order to free up his left hand. With this newly liberated limb he reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small, thin, pink box.
Not the item I had expected to see.
But whatever it was thrilled the penguin, as he squinted with joy, clapped his hands and jumped up and down.
With confusion still residing on his face, the young man looked at the box and then at the joyous penguin. He freely handed the box over to his most recent acquaintance, who gratefully accepted it. The penguin flipped open the box and pulled out a smaller pink rectangle. He tore off the pink paper wrapping and handed the trash to the boy, who took it surprisingly readily and placed it in his pocket. With the paper off, the penguin popped the little pink object in his mouth and began to chew. Apparently his new acquisition was bubble gum. The gum seemed to make this penguin extremely happy; His face lit up with complete joy as he chewed the sweet treat.
He chomped happily for a few moments, staring off into space before he turned his attention back to the young man. Still enjoying his gum, the penguin patted the boy on the knee and then extended his long black arm.Beyond any adequate definition of bewildered the boy gently took hold of the penguin’s offered up flipper. The penguin shook the boy’s hand enthusiastically but without saying a word. He then took off walking down the street, past Spin Cycle, the coffee shop, and the buildings beyond.The young and confused man stayed kneeling on the sidewalk, alone after the penguin had left. He looked as though he were trying his hardest to comprehend what had just happened.
Although, so did I, I’m sure.
He turned to look behind him and see the penguin walking off in the distance. Slowly he turned back and picked up the books he had laid down earlier. As he mumbled to himself, obviously distracted, he stood up and began walking towards the unique car parked to my right. After fumbling again with the large books he pulled out his car keys. He hesitated a moment before getting in, looking again in the direction the penguin had gone, although the little creature was too far now to be seen. He shook his head a final time, got into his car and drove off.
I watched as this unnamed man pulled away. The street was again devoid of any life. No cars had come or gone in the few minutes in which this spectacle took place, and no more pedestrians had made any appearances.
My sketch pad still sat beside me on the bench. After sufficiently recovering from my own bout of confusion this scene had caused I grabbed the pad; surely, if a two foot penguin walking and talking, chewing bubble gum and speaking with a confounded boy didn’t strike within me some sort of creative spark, I as an artist would be a failure.
I began scribbling wildly on the pad, not bothering to erase or attempt to fix any mistakes. Even as the sun began to set I stayed there on the bench, my eyes and pencil never leaving my paper.
After near an hour, maybe even two, I let loose a sigh of perfect contentment. Finished. My trip to this corner had not been in vain. I had finally produced a work of art without fighting with my medium.
So the result? The contents of the sketchpad that I had spent hours working in?
This is actually a very old story. I wrote it a few years ago, when I was still in school going for my design degree. A few days ago I decided to crochet a penguin, though, and this story just seemed to be perfect for it, so I thought I’d repost it with the pattern :)
I admit, I wrote this pattern up somewhat hastily and while very tired, so it’s not as neat and polished as I would’ve liked. But I’m writing it off as a casualty of my busy summer thus far. The important thing is that I’ve finally got a new freebie to give away. Right now, I’ve got a PDF file available for download that has the instructions for making your own micro penguin. I hope someone will be able to make sense of it and crochet up a black penguin for themselves; it’s the one color I haven’t done yet!
So here you go, and I hope someone out there can get some use of this pattern: Micro Penguin Pattern by Karissa Cole 2013
As soon as I get the chance I’ll neaten it up a bit, add some more pictures, better details, and all that jazz. But it’s good enough for now :)
Please remember that this amigurumi design, and the accompanying story are copyright Karissa Cole/ea1701 2013, all rights reserved. They are made available for personal, non-profit use only. For more information please feel free to contact me. Thank you!