Sometimes kitsch can be your friend.
This is another attempt at doing an occasional sketch a day. It was originally going to be Medusa. I wanted her features to express not only that oppressive sorrow of knowing one is a monster, but also to at least hint at the self-horror engendered by such a fate. Unfortunately, I couldn’t capture that aspect. Even if I had, I still would have needed to peruse Sarah’s nature books to find reference images of our serpentine friends; thus the project would have taken more than a day which would have defeated the purpose. So I was left with only a partial and deliberately deformed face in the upper corner of the paper. Perhaps it would have been best to accept the failure and graciously let the inchoate image molder away to dust. Instead, this morning I disinterred it and allowed the pencil to finish the piece by going where it will with but little interference from me (drawings go so much faster that way). This, such as it is, is the result.
This is simply another attempt at doing a drawing a day. One nice thing about mythological characters is that one can get away with so much. Do the satyr’s arms seem freakishly long? Well, surely you know their arms keep growing all through their lives? Go out and find an old satyr and see for yourself. And also, the melancholy of unrealized dreams and the inevitable silencing of this mortal coil, when treated as abstraction, as unreal sorrows borne by unreal creatures, is an age-old device. Just ask any satyr you happen to see.
The Gospel of Mark is theoretically the oldest of the Gospels. It certainly contains the least amount of dialog and is the most “action-driven,” constantly employing the word “immediately” (about forty times in its sixteen chapters). Maybe that’s why I failed to notice until recently how many times it records Jesus calmly and quietly touching others: from the first chapter’s episode with Simon’s mother-in-law; curing lepers and epileptics; leading the blind by the hand; raising the dead by a touch to warmly holding children in His arms. This piece is just a fumbling attempt to record my sudden realization of the sweetness of that theme.
Titian. Van Gogh. Matisse. Wheeler Hall. Immortal and sublime colorists all. And now a new member joins this august company, our own Sarah Potter. This drawing is one in an informal series whereby I attempt a more-or-less complete drawing in two hours or less. Once the bell tolls the piece is dead and I do not touch it. All the mistakes and embarrassments, and there are many, are left undisturbed. I consider this a weak and vapid piece, not at all what I wanted, and was going to inter it away where it would never see the light of day. Then Sarah came by and said she liked it but that it needed butterfly wings and, if I added those, she would like to color it. And thus the piece was resuscitated from the very mouth of the grave. It was too heavily shaded to be colored on directly, so I made a quick outline tracing for Sarah. Her first bit of artistic license was to change the image’s gender, after which she plied her color pencils. Compare the before and after! Being an unbiased and disinterested viewer, I think her work is quite impressive. I’m sure you agree.
This was done in 2004. It’s one in a series of drawings based on Greek myths. I can’t be sure after all this time, but I suspect it is the final piece. If not, it has to be one of the last ones drawn since I can see in it that I was repeating themes. I happened to disinter it while looking for something else and felt absolute indifference toward it, as if I had merely stumbled upon a faded photograph of a stranger. Whatever thoughts or feelings inspired it had dissipated over the years and could not be summoned back. Then Sarah happened to walk by and said, “Oh! That one’s good.” So you know what? Now I like it.
This painting is fairly recent but I completely forgot about it until stumbling upon it while doing some late, late spring cleaning. It’s sort of a sister piece to an earlier drawing of a satyr called “If Pan is Dead, Then Why Am I?” They both share some themes, although the painting contains more than the drawing. Also, at least this figure has a goatee. Just like its penciled sibling, this work demonstrates my woeful ignorance of anatomy, even half-human anatomy, and the hands in both pieces are an absolute embarrassment. I could express my dissatisfaction by crying, “Baa!” but fear Kathy’s reaction since she disproves of bad puns, be they Ovid or ovine. She also protests when I don’t wipe my hooves on the welcome mat.
Another old painting (2007, to be precise) based on a Barb Stork photograph. That photograph of Sarah and a canine reminded me of those innumerable nineteenth century representations of wives and children hopefully waiting for their loved ones to return from the merciless sea. I’m not sure what the dog’s waiting for. Being a dog, it probably doesn’t know either.