It started as a prank, pulled by a father on his son.
It may turn into a treasured heirloom – and the continuation of a family favorite pastime.
Every school day, consistently for the last nine months, Davey Edwards of Alvord has doodled on his oldest son’s lunch bag.
The goal was to embarrass Ryan, a sophomore at Alvord High School, as a way of teaching him responsibility.
“The biggest intention was to draw on the bag and whatever could embarrass him, that’s what I would try,” Davey said.
Growing up, Ryan, now 15, constantly left his lunch boxes at school. His parents began packing his lunch in plain, brown paper sacks.
One afternoon, Ryan asked his dad to bring him food from a local fast-food eatery.
“What I did was, I made him a peanut butter sandwich and drew a picture of the Wendy’s girl – and instead of putting ‘Wendy’s’ I put ‘Ryan’s,’” Davey said.
After that, Davey didn’t doodle on another lunch sack for several months – until this past January.
“I got to thinking, ‘These blank things, and I’m sitting here doing nothing,’” he said.
It was an open invitation to a lifelong artist whose trade as a land surveyor gives him few opportunities to use that talent.
“I’ve just always loved art,” he said. “I’ve been drawing since I was 4.”
So Davey took to the “canvas” and sketched out a series of women in sports.
“At the time, Ryan was getting started in baseball so I went with that theme,” Davey said. “But really, it’s just what’s interesting to me because I’m not going to draw it if it’s not interesting.”
His inspiration comes from everywhere – including movies he watches on TV, the video games his son plays and worldwide festivities.
He even welcomes suggestions from the following he’s created on Facebook. To encourage interaction, he posts some of his works on the social media site for fans to guess what famous works he’s recreated.
Lately, he’s taken a particular interest in mythological creatures – Norwegian goddesses, mermaids and such.
Since the primary purpose of the lunch bag art was to embarrass his teenage son, Davey decided the subject of his works would be women.
Although that was the original purpose, Edwards also points out the artistic value.
“To me, a female character is beautiful. But I think they’re more complex than a male, if you’re going to draw them,” he said. “They’re a lot more difficult to get the curvatures down. Men are typically boxy. There’s not much to a male form. So I typically focus on the female form because of the curves and the beauty in it and the hair. But I have done male characters.”
He set himself a few other “rules” as well.
The works had to be on brown, paper sacks, and he would use only black ink.
In addition, he allots himself no more than an hour per lunch sack.
But like the “girl rule,” most of the others have also been bent.
Davey has incorporated some color in his doodles, and one of his favorite pieces, a replica of the famed “Afghan Girl” – a National Geographic cover by photographer Steve McCurry, took much longer than 60 minutes.
“I really focused on the eyes on that one, because when you look at the National Geographic cover, it was the eyes that everybody noticed,” he said. “It ended up looking a lot better than I thought it would, and I ended up spending a lot more time on it than I normally would.”
All the time spent in creating these masterpieces is not wasted.
In a continuing effort to instill responsibility in his son, Davey asks that Ryan bring home each sack.
Davey unfolds it and trims it to mount in a book he one day intends to give his son.
“He brings them back torn and wrinkled, but I don’t mind that at all,” Davey said. “That adds character to it. A lot of times it’s really got character, it really got ripped up because he puts it at the bottom of his bag. I don’t have an issue with that. Some people said, ‘Why could you let him tear it up?’ It’s his, really. When I get this all done, it’s his to have.”
Davey snaps a photo of each of his drawings and documents the inspiration behind the work.
“So it’s not like I’m going to lose anything,” he said.
But the collection of lunch bags isn’t all that Davey is passing along to Ryan and his brothers.
Ryan, like his father, has taken up drawing. Both do pencil drawings, but Ryan colors his.
“That’s where I’m starting,” Davey said. “It doesn’t work as well on brown paper as it does white paper, but it’s still a little bit.”
Even Davey’s middle son, Davin, who likes watercolors, shows promising signs of artistic abilities.
“He’s going to be our biggest artist,” Davey said. “Hopefully he’ll overcome me and be famous someday. And hopefully they appreciate the art of it.
“My grandma, my dad’s mom, did oil paintings. We have some of her works, and I think they’re so special,” Davey continued. “Ryan will get this book and will get to look back and say, ‘That’s part of me.’ I think it’s neat.”