Monthly Archives: July 2012

Body Beautiful

I was always a rather modest person. I didn’t grow up in the kind of family that felt totally at ease parading around in their birthday suits. In Junior High, I was the girl who changed clothes in the shower stall before P.E. class. Even as an adult, I maintained strict eye contact whenever a naked woman spoke to me in the locker room at my gym.

After going through childbirth, with a cast of strangers inspecting and prodding my naked body, my sense of modesty completely vanished. I was an adult, a mother, and a woman who no longer feared nudity.

So when my drawing instructor announced we would be having a nude model, I was surprised to feel those old insecurities creep back into my psyche. Would it be weird? Would I feel awkward? Would I really be able to look at this naked woman, and then draw her?

The morning of “Figure Drawing,” our class was noticeably smaller. Several students apparently couldn’t face what they feared would be an incredibly uncomfortable situation. The confident young model strolled to the front of the room, dropped her robe, and struck a pose. No one gasped or turned away in embarrassment–we simply began to draw.

We did a series of one-minute gestures. It was fast and furious–paper flipping and charcoal flying. I was so engaged in perfecting proportion, perspective, and composition, that I forgot I was drawing a nude. She became a series of lines, shapes, and forms that I tried to connect in artistic ways. It wasn’t awkward, weird, or embarrassing. It was simply art.

If I could revisit my body-conscious twelve-year-old self, I would tell her that the human body is a marvelous, amazing creation–each unique in its gifts and imperfections. And I think Mother Nature would agree–Every body is beautiful.Image

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Watercolor Pencil on Arches Aquarelle

Art Supply Junkie

It’s always a thrill to open my mailbox and find that the Daniel Smith art supply catalogue has been delivered.  I pour over the pages, red Sharpie in hand, circling what will surely be the next great treasure in my art supply collection.

I get a genuine high just walking down the aisles of Sam Flax, perusing the pencils, paints, and papers.  The open stock pencil wall is like a colorful candy bin I can’t resist dipping into, and I want to sample it all.  Graphite, graphitone, graphitint, colored pencils, watercolor pencils–I long to try every color, every style, every brand.  I have so many supplies on my drawing table there’s hardly room to draw.

I am on a never-ending mission to discover the perfect pencil, eraser, and sharpener.  A growing collection of disappointments, cast-offs, and relics crowds my closet, but my quest continues.

They say the first step in getting help is to admit you have a problem.  Okay…”I am an art supply junkie.”  There.  I’ve said it.  And now I’m off to Michael’s!Image

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“Surf’s Up”

Prismacolor CP and Faber-Castell WPC on Stonehenge paper

Could someone push me?

Much like a child sitting on a swing, I sometimes wish someone would push me. Just a few quick shoves to send me soaring into the air, higher and higher, shaking up my adrenaline so it bounces around inside me like a run-away ping pong ball.

When I’m in art class, my instructor and fellow students provide those ‘pushes.’ Whether compliments or critiques, their valuable feedback inspires me to improve my work. When I’m alone in my studio, at times it’s hard to get motivated. I find myself longing for those encouraging hands on my back. After all, it’s much easier to get started with a little push.

As children grow older and wiser, they learn that they don’t always need to be pushed. If they pump their legs fast and hard, they can propel themselves as high as they want to go. In life, everyone reaches a point where there’s no one to push them. If you haven’t learned to pump, you’re not going anywhere. And since I can’t get enough of that ‘flying’ feeling, I’ll just have to pump my legs.

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OCD — graphite

Art can elicit joyful emotions, evoke sorrow, or stir up rusty childhood memories. It can be edgy, provocative, even downright disturbing. But for me, art is about beauty. It’s about putting down on paper what will make the corners of my mouth turn up every time I look at it.

When I render a controversial subject, I still try to capture its beauty. Even the darkest subject can have an incredibly detailed reflection, a rich organic shadow, or an interesting soulful form. I see beauty everywhere–in a crooked smile, a rusted-out fender, an ominous purple storm cloud.

If others can see the beauty in my work, then I have accomplished my goal. For beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, but it must first erupt from the soul of the artist.

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“Into the Blue”

Prismacolor CP and Faber Castell WCP on Stonehenge paper

Control Freak

Throughout my life, I have been accused of being bossy, too structured, and a control freak with a wicked case of OCD.  Is it any wonder I prefer to work in graphite?  Sharpened to flesh piercing points, my pencils allow me to capture every detail and nuance, and most importantly, to have complete control over my work.  And let’s not forget the ability to entirely erase bad decisions.  If only life were that simple.  For now, though, I will happily control the multitude of pencils in my studio, and they will graciously comply.