Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Hands, Feet, and their Attachments:
I still have my first sketchbook, from when I was 18. Up till then I just drew on whatever I could find. The acquisition of a sketchbook prompted me to study drawing in a determined way, and I started with my own hands. And feet. These were done with a brush. Then there's a page of mostly hands and arms - I recall that these studies were linked in my mind with learning to dance. The next page in the sketchbook was a strangely distorted image of Nijinsky as The Faun in Debussy's Apres midi d'un Faune - so I was already on that path.
The colored squiggles in between the hands and feet were intended to fuse all the marks into a 2 dimensional layer - partly derived from an interest in Oriental calligraphy, and partly from study of how layers of marks make spatial illusions in the paintings of Jackson Pollock, and, more interesting to me at the time, Mark Tobey. I was as interested in the shapes in between the hands and feet as in the members themselves - what is sometimes called negative space. But there's nothing negative about it in my perception - object and space define each other as significant equals.
In a couple of years I met the first person that I fell deeply in love with, and he (generously) let me draw him hundreds of times. It doesn't get much better for an artist than to have the object of a great passion as a willing subject for life drawing class. The drawings I made of him were fueled by adoration and erotic obsession. Love made it possible for me to focus on the most minute detail with complete attention, because every cell of his body was pure beauty to me. Ah youth!