I am a little dumbfounded, and I admit that’s not very nice of me, when someone praises my talent. This is not talent.
This is struggle. This is my heart. My drawings are not pretty, they are not graceful, they are not sensual. My drawings are more wrinkled than my face. You can read despair and resolve in these drawings as I fight back to gain control, to force the curves and lines into some semblance of grace.
There are four layers here, displaying plenty of struggle in the first three renditions (graphite, crayon and conte); and then I decided I could not tolerate that foot running off the page and started all over again in ink.
Princeton had no studio arts program, just a couple of semesters of pass/fail drawing, painting, and sculpture. I took them all. The year I took pass-fail drawing Esteban Vicente was the artist in residence. I saw his disapproval as he looked at my drawing but could not understand because it looked okay to me. “Too facile,” he said.
You can read elsewhere how I had to abandon my art for decades. That sense of penetrating my drawing surface has left me. I remember how it feels very clearly, and I am well aware of its absence today.
Drawing these figures now is a strenuous undertaking. After three hours I am quite tired. Up until right now, all of the figure drawings I have posted on Instagram, Facebook and this web page are of Lena, who posed for me over the last two years. Every week we worked together for five hours with an hour out for lunch together, and it's a good thing, because I really needed the break. I used to refer to Lena as “The Mean Girl,” because when she was here I suffered so. Of course she's not mean at all; she's very dear. (Please take a look at The Lena Series; there's a button above.)
It was a traumatic loss to let my facility die on the vine. Please do not dismiss these drawings as clumsy, indecisive, error-ridden fumblings. They are meta-expressionistic; they express the struggle and determination of their very own creation, which is why I let all the revisions show. Though they are less popular, they represent my strongest, most human work.
And I hope that bastard Vicente is happy.