To anyone else it might have just been a squiggle on a paper. But to me it was accomplishment and beauty. I could have framed it. I stared at it. It was in that moment in time all I wanted to be.
I was in art school. It was my first life drawing class. I swear I woke up giddy each day because I got to create each day. I was SUPPOSED to do this. I can’t begin to explain how much I loved art school. It goes down as some of the best days of my life so far. I had to fight to be there. I was supposed to be finishing my last year and a half to get my physics degree. And like the good little girl I had always been since 5, I dropped out, moved home and faught for my right to go to art school. So, it was so satisfying to be there every single day. Creating. Learning. They were amazing times.
But, back to the story. Mr. Pashley. Oh my. He was yummy. He was older. He had premature grey hair. He had a thick, thick scottish accent. Oh what a crush I had on him! Now add to all that that he was the most talented artist I had ever met. Truly. He was amazing. And. He would tear you to pieces. He held nothing back in a critique. If he told you your assignment wasn’t completely awful you floated for days. Most days though, he told you your art wasn’t fit to be seen. That you should be embarressed to have brought it in or to have shown it. Now yes, yes, I know what you are thinking….”Oh my! That certainly isn’t a very good way to encourage an artist.’ But what can I say, his technique worked. All you wanted was this man’s approval. I stayed up later, worked and reworked drawings. I cried over it, I sighed over it, I worked my ass off for his approval. And let me tell you, when you put your piece of paper up on the wall and he looked it over staring at it silently-all the while holding your breath- if you heard, “Finally, someone is taking this seriously. Very nice Ms. Nelson (maiden name). Better than the rest of the rubbish up here on the wall.” Well, for that moment you thought you could might actually make all this happen and not be poor the rest of your life and prove to your parents you were actually not making the biggest mistake of your life. It was magic.
But the squiggle….
So there we are in life drawing class. Some model in front of us. And I am sketching. I used to have this habit of reworking the lines to death. I sketched too dark. I couldn’t capture the line very easily. I wanted to get it just right. And it came off looking way too over worked. Mr. Pashley would come over. He would tell me to look. Look for much longer than you sketch. See the line you want to draw. Study the muscle and the curve it creates. Then put it on your paper. Oh. Oh. Then he did it. He drew the shoulder I couldn’t quite get on paper. I watched him look. Look. Look. Then in a moment he set the lead to the paper. It took a moment. Then he walked away. I stared at the pencil line. It was thin, then thick, then thin again. It was one line. Not sketchy and broken. One perfect line that made a man’s shoulder. It literally took my breath away. It was so beautiful. That is what I wanted to strive for. Occasionally in a sketch or a painting I get the line right. I get the nuance of it. I capture the subject somehow with the emotion of the line. Honestly, it does not happen often. But this morning in a sketch of a tree and a chair on my balcony over coffee, I did it. And it filled me up. Gave me hope that maybe I am not in entirely the wrong profession. And it made me think of the man that taught me creating is not just inspiration but hard work and pushing yourself. And that sometimes not completely awful can be a very big compliment in the right context. This morning I was not completely awful and it has made my day.
I spent the day obssessed with lines. I ended up painting three new paintings. They are my contribution to
Go here to see the new art: