Current: Seems like I’ve been trying to draw men. Not because I am thinking about men, but because I’ve never had much luck at drawing them. They always look like ladies in some small way. I suppose that is true for 3-dimensional men as well, the walking+talking kind. It is not only facial features that determine our perception of masculinity. If men and women were stripped of the culture – to to stand still, to not say a word – the differences between male and female structure of facial features (noses, mouths, eyes) would likely seem almost minimal. I am not, mind you, referring to skeletal features, such as brow line and jaw. Certainly there are cases in which these features are more likely to be found among, in the case of heavy jaws and more prominent brows, among men.
Isn’t it funny how I sound like I actually know what I am talking about? Really, I am not certain, meaning I’ve not formally researched the question of difference in cranial skeletal structure between male and female humans. I am quite certain that there are well-documented differences between the male and female pelvis. If there were not differences, if women had the relatively compact pelvis of men, our heads would be terribly squashed, we would never be born.
(Leo drew so hard, his lines were in the paper. I drew over them, and then I drew him. Sorta.)
I am uncertain as to what purpose a heavy jaw may serve a male, and why females of the species H. sapiens would not be granted – evolution is fickle – such a structure. Perhaps, (oh, scandalous perhaps) ’tis the smaller jaw of the female which shows evolutionary progress. Harder to hit a dainty chin?
I have no idea what I’m talking about by the way. So, I thought that drawing a man face would be difficult, as it has been in the past. But, I think there is something mannish about these figures, something decidedly male. Except perhaps the one very pretty man who was sketched from a photo of an old, old friend when he was quite young. He really is a very pretty man.
The issue with the masculine face is that, for the most part, features such as eyes, nose, and mouth are surprisingly sex-neutral when scrutinized in isolation. It is almost impossible to make a mouth, the faintest of line and shadow, look male. Noses are easier, just make them look as if they’d been broken. Eyes are not to tough, just make them look sort of hard and distant.
Remarkable, isn’t it? The way our cultural stereotypes come through our art. I like Star Boy the best. He is neither here, nor there. He is falling through the ethers.
show details 9:28 AM (12 hours ago)
Drawing is a selfish act. Even if you draw a picture for someone else, it is unlikely that they will experience any comparable measure of joy than that which you experienced in the creation of the lines and form, a gift to be exclaimed over because, after all, not everyone can draw a banjo a human hand, even if imprecisely.
It’s a skill coveted by children, who are often, it is worth noting, easily impressed. As a child, I had a slightly older friend, Laurel Kirkland, who could draw and paint with skill beyond her years. I wanted to be just like her, an improbably gifted artist with big feet. My feet grew as I wished they would. But, my perseverant sketching of horses failed to make me an artist.
“If only I could draw one perfect horse,” I chewed my lower lip at the kitchen table, struggling to convey some possibility of real life in my simple horse drawings.
I wonder if my mother saved any of the hundreds of horses I drew? I hope-but-doubt that she did. My parents are artists in their own way (Everybody!) But I suspect, with good reason, that amateur sketching, seems a somewhat pointless endeavor to them. Maybe, I don’t know. They seem, now, to respect that drawing everyday is vital to me. However, it’s not the drawing they respect as much as it’s their relief that I’ve found some vitality, whatever its source.
And maybe when I put pencil to paper I find that same hopefulness of childhood, that golden envisioning of all things possible, if I only try, try, diligently try.
The funny thing is (wonderful irony) is that I have, for the most part, stopped trying. At least as far as content and perfection are concerned. I pick a subject, sometimes prior to drawing, sometimes after I’ve drawn a single curved line and asked that it become some thing, a form. The subjects I pick prior can be as broad a topic as “a man” or as specific as a pinecone plucked from the mantle.
And then I just draw. And most of the time what I intended to sketch isn’t what ends up on the paper. Sometimes men become women who are young and then old and then birds.
It doesn’t matter though. The important thing isn’t what, but how. I draw everyday. I draw free and without exasperated criticism. I don’t care what I end up with.
Strange how this process – so hinged on disregard of product – has begun to turn out some of my best drawings, some lines that I can hardly believe were drawn by my hand. Sure, certain lines.
show details 6:09 PM (3 hours ago)
Disregard is a necessary component of courage. For years, I had some odd version of success-fear. I was uncomfortably mediocre in most of my creative endeavors. Unfinished paintings still line my walls.
Oh, painting…if this were another time, another headspace, I’d be nagging myself to paint. But, painting takes time. It’s a commitment. Perhaps, I’ll start small. Perhaps, after I’ve drawn everyday for a year, I will challenge myself to turn out two painting per month, of sizeable size.
The only issue is that paint is expensive. Perhaps I’ll apply for a grant. I am a great experiment. An excellent keeper of records.
I leave a lot out. Like how some of my drawings are done in one big, fast blast and others are pieced together over the course of the day. My work on them punctuated by the demands of my life outside words and sharp-pointed pencils. Work, kids, dogs and cats. Sleep. Laundry. And the chickens shat on the porch…again.
There is always, always, always too much too much too much to do to do to do…
Fortunately, I seldom watch television. It is a distraction. Too bright, too loud, too flat. Too endless.
On a whim, I purchased a series of DVD “Great Courses” – stodgy, professorial types lecturing behind podiums set askew on awful mauve/teal sets. Like the waiting rooms of cancer care offices these sets are. Or lobbies in mid-range hotels. Oncology at the Hampton Inn, the soundtrack a fat man droning on about consciousness and the brain body connection.
I watch them sometimes, but only because they make me feel smart.
Smart, smart, smart. I love my brain without shame. Some might accuse me of cognitive conceit. However, I’ve played dumb long enough, sat quiet as a stone.
Without my brain, I’d be nothing. Ha!
Wasn’t I talking about drawing? Oh, yes.
I’m not scared to try to be good at something. So, there…
show details 6:32 PM (3 hours ago)
Oh, other strange activities. I have been meaning to write about this:
I have five cats. During the holidays, it is often necessary for me to be hyper-vigilant in making sure that the two elderly brothers, Boober and Little, do not errantly piss on the tree and presents. They tend to react to unfamiliar objects, especially those in tree and box form, with bouts of unsanctioned urination.
This year, it finally occured to me that they were likely just establishing territory and if I beat them to it, perhaps they would, well…not dampen our merriment with the odor of cat pee.
The children thought it odd when they saw me rubbing the prents on my hair and in my underarms. I explained that I was “scent-marking the presents as mine” – I could tell it made sense (my children appreciate scientific explanations) but that they still thought it odd (they did not appreciate the thought of mom’s armpits on their presents).
My scientific reasoning, and the use of such legitimate-sounding words as “feline species” and “olfactory identification of territorial dominance” (Ha!), quieted their baffled protests.
The story ends with the three of us delighting in odor-free presents at 5:30 in the morning. The world still dark and sleeping, the house smelling of coffee and biscuits. Celebration: that my Leo, factual boy that he is, STILL believes in Santa. That my children love eachother and offered carefully wrapped gifts to one another. That all the inside/outside cats are inside. That I have a perfect excuse to hang thousands of colored lights from our home. That we have a home in which we can fit a really, big tree that still smells alive. (That we have a house at all!)
Perhaps the value of Christmas is not only that it reminds us to be thankful for what we have, but also prompts us to consider, with no small measure of wonder, all that is lovely, yet improbable. A fat man who flies presents. A baby born to a virgin mother. The goodwill of men.
Be thankful. Hope. Be sure to make sure you mark your territory wisely and know that others understand your parameters in ways that you never even considered.
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