Toy-rific art

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Megs Murray shows off her latest Etch A Sketch drawing &#8212; the Lunenburg waterfront.</p>
  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>Megs Murray&#8217;s Etch A Sketch drawing of the Lunenburg waterfront has garnered more than 3,000 <em>likes</em> on Facebook.</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>Drawing of Peggy&#8217;s Cove created by Megs Murray on the Etch A Sketch toy her mother gave her as a Christmas &#8220;gag gift.&#8221;</p>
  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>When Megs Murray sat down with her niece&#8217;s and nephew&#8217;s Etch A Sketch last Thanksgiving, she eked out a drawing of a dog on the toy and was inspired to carry on creating art that includes iconic Nova Scotian images.</p>

Megs Murray is under no illusion that she can rightfully claim the title "artist."

But within days of her posting her sketch of Lunenburg's waterfront on the We Love Nova Scotia Facebook page, Murray, who currently works as a waitress in the town, has garnered more than 3,000 likes,.

She's also had nearly 400 shares and more than 304 comments, most of which include "amazing," "wow," "incredible," and "awesome."

One individual on Facebook, Bill McDonald, rightfully warned, "Don't drop it."

That's because Murray's intricate rendition of the iconic seafront was created on an Etch-A-Sketch toy she received as a whimsical Christmas present.

Many of us may remember playing with the popular red-framed drawing toy with aluminum powder and moving stylus. Images can be drawn, and quickly erased by shaking the board. However, likely, few of us ever mastered much more than stick people drawings.

Murray, who hails from B.C., also had one as a child. On Thanksgiving in Ontario last year, she found herself playing with her niece's and nephew's toy.

"I was like, 'Oh my God. Flashback. Blast from the past," says Murray, who is 29.

Like most of us, she remembers not being able to do much more than spell her name and create "squiggles" as a child.

When she picked up her relatives' toy last year, she wasn't a complete artistic novice, having studied art throughout high school and dabbled in acrylic painting socially with friends.

"I do enjoy it once I sit down and start doing it, but I wouldn't consider myself, like an artist or anything," she said in an interview with LighthouseNOW.

To her surprise, she managed to create a simple drawing of a dog. "I was like, 'Look at me go.' You can tell it's a dog, right?"

She sent a picture of the etched dog to her mother, who was equally thrilled, and subsequently bought her an Etch-A-Sketch for Christmas. "Mostly as a gag gift," recalls Murray.

Having toured across the country in her van, when Murray received it she was living in Halifax. Within days, she was doing increasingly detailed drawings. By December 29, she had progressed to an image of Peggy's Cove, which she completed in a couple of hours.

She posted a picture of the sketch on We Love Nova Scotia just before going to bed, and awoke to find almost 2,000 likes, and the number grew to more than 3,500. Murray was "blown away" by the accolades.

After moving to Lunenburg in May, she went on to create a drawing of the town's waterfront. It took her about three hours in total.

Murray recalls accidentally shaking the Lunenburg drawing. Luckily, she says, the toy and its images are "sturdier" than one would think, and she only needed to restore a small corner of the drawing.

According to Murray the secret in creating images on Etch A Sketch is patience and practice.

"You really have to think when you start about which way your hands move to make the lines go the way you want them to. The more I did it, the more it was, like, it's muscle memory." Eventually, turning the nobs in the correct direction became second nature.

As well, it's about progressing through one area to the next, rather than attempting to jump from one spot to another, says Murray. The biggest challenges proved to be long diagonals and big circles.

For her next project, she's contemplating the iconic image of Mahone Bay's three churches. But rather than buy a new Etch A Sketch toy, she says chances are she will just shake and erase the drawing of the Lunenburg waterfront.

Having de-cluttered her life in B.C. and packed up much of what is important in her van, her Etch A Sketch drawings have become somewhat of a metaphor, says the new resident of Lunenburg.

"A very good lesson in non-attachment. Realizing that everything comes and goes in life...It's beautiful now, and just make room for the next thing," says Murray.

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