My first charcoal sketch

notre dame

I used to tease a colleague in IBM by naming everything we wrote together as “MyFirst…”, the joke being that he was (relatively) new to programming. Well, I am new to charcoal sketching. I have always wondered how come my brother, my mother, and my father are all such gifted artists and I am not.

Still, my wife talked me into spending some time sketching the cathedral, and here is the result. I thought it was a bit rubbish, but she liked it. To be honest, it has started to grow on me. It does convey the stark and imposingly spiky gothic architecture.

While we were drawing, an American woman came up to us and asked to see what we were drawing. “Oh my,” she exclaimed, “how wonderful!” Very encouraging of her, wasn’t it? She conversed with us for a minute or two, and then, while walking away, she said, “What a lovely place to relax a while and learn!” Then she chided her husband into hurrying up because they had other things to see that Sunday afternoon.

I hope the irony of her words dawns on her, because she was right—it is a lovely place to relax. More than this, her parting comment revealed her real opinion of my drawing—it was clearly the work of a novice. So on reflection I must change my opinion. The American was superficial and not very encouraging at all. All the real encouragement that day came from my wife: encouragement to relax, encouragement to draw, and encouragement to appreciate my own work. Thank you Mrs Tenthmaker.


  1. Alasdair said


    Recently a very good friend of mine commented that the reason I was not good at languages was not due to a lack of ability or talent in the area, but a lack of inclination to improve my skills in that area. He was right, and irrespective of whether or not your sketch is obviously by a beginner or not everyone has to start somewhere.

    Also I think that something you find easy to do is less satisfying to do than something that challenges and extends you.

    Lao Tzu said “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”.

    Oh, and I rather like the sketch.

  2. joechacko said

    Thanks, Alasdair. You are very encouraging too. That’s one wise dude you’ve cited there.

    The Lao Tzu quote is pretty profound, too.

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