CLASS OF 77
The Artist and the Little Red Toy
When eight-year-old Keith Drake C77 sat down to draw the family piano using his first Etch A SketchTM, his parents were not expecting the detailed picture, complete with 88 tiny piano keys, that he created. Today, Drake has sketched renditions of everything from the Mona Lisa to the Statue of Liberty to Thomas Edisonall of which, he says, leave his acquaintances with one reaction: How did you do that?
Drake, who has made the little red toy his lifetime hobby (http://www.wanderline.com), admits that its difficult: with a continuous line following the artists every move, its impossible to make changes or erase. You cant lift your pencil; you have to think ahead, he says. Its a one-of-a-kind medium.
lies in preserving the artwork: a single shake of the plastic frame clears
the screen. The toy is really a box full of fine aluminum powder which
sticks to the glass, he explains. When you draw, you scrape that
Before Drake came up with his trick for safekeeping the sketches, he had to take care not to tip them over. For sentiments sake, he has managed to carry around level for 23 years three of his earliest and most favorite worksincluding a portrait of Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris. Theyre kind of like antique cars, he says, still in original operating condition after all these years.
Drake just finished a 20-year stint as a technical artist for Bell Laboratories, and now devotes his time to his new freelance-illustration company, Keith Drake Design. On the side he recently finished his first commissioned sketch, a portrait of NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon, and is looking to be an entrepreneur with Etch A Sketch work.
Generally, Drake spends only 20 minutes designing each drawing; he once sketched Abe Lincoln in four minutes while being interviewed on a television program. Of friends who jokingly lament having been able to draw only steps on their childhood Etch A Sketches, Drake notes that theyre locked into turning one knob at a time. Turn both and you get angles and curves. Admitting, however, that no circles and curves are ever perfect, he notes that the medium has its own look. Its always more difficult than pencil, he says, but you can do it.
Sarah Blackman C03
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Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 7/01/02