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.
If you happen to be in beautiful Xenia, Ohio any Thursday through Saturday between noon and 6:00 p.m., amble over to the Xenia Area Community Theater located at 45 E Second Street. As you see, they kindly put one of my paintings in their window for the Christmas season. They have a lot of great pieces ridiculously under-priced by some wonderfully talented local artists, so you’ll be glad you stopped by. For more information, visit their website at www.XeniaACT.org.
I did a couple of quick doodles of Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie some time back and thought I should try to complete the run by doing the final Warren Publishing title character — at least the last one I’m aware of — Vampirella, the never-overdressed vampire. She’d be arrested for indecent exposure at a nudist colony. Don’t vampires ever feel cold or self-conscious? But back to the subject. The Creepy and Eerie sketches were fun to draw since I only had to quickly fashion their faces. This one, however, took hours since, even if I had caught Vampirella’s facial features, which, alas, I didn’t, the character still demanded a rendition of her torso. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about anatomy, undead or otherwise, so the result was not worth the time invested. My attempt at cheesecake turned out bloody awful, but since it’s of Vampirella, that makes it all right. Maybe next time, if there is a next time, I’ll draw Cousin Eerie dressed in her outfit. That should be fun. Or at least creepy.
“Like God did God make man; male and female made He them.”
Albeit but a pale and stunted imitation of the Eternal’s, a father’s love for his children still defies earthly measurement or mortal description. To celebrate Sarah’s arrival into the world and her maturing, I’d hoped to do a series of paintings based on nursery rhymes. I was only able to paint a few over the years, the first one being Old King Cole. Together he and I welcomed new life into this old place. And the years tumbled by and my newborn infant was suddenly a toddler, her hair matted with peas and applesauce. And now that toddler stands suddenly before me a radiant young woman, her hair still matted with peas and applesauce. She so takes after her mother. Once another Old King Cole and I bid a joyous greeting to baby Sarah; now this one and I join in wishing her a wistful farewell as she becomes an independent adult. It seems only a few days ago I brought her into the world and now she’s all ready to go out into it to find her own place and make her own mark. I know from experience that it’s a scary old world but I also know from experience that Sarah can be even scarier. Through these all-too-short years, you’ve made this old man very merry indeed, Sarah. Go get ‘em, girl!
One last bit of purple prose pontificating. Nothing is symmetrical in this piece, Sarah, everything is lopsided. That’s my preemptive visual sermon if someone should ever tell you that your life should be perfectly balanced, predictable, safe and unvaryingly pleasant. Such a fate may be fine for a goldfish in its bowl, but it’s a miserable lot for a human being. Almost everything in this life is slightly out of plumb, asymmetrical, off-kilter and askew. It’s rare to have a perfect fit. Although that might be irritating at times, it also means that no door can ever be irreversibly shut in this life, it’s always slightly ajar — and that’s part of the adventure that makes this life worth the living.