Monday, April 23, 2007

THE PAINTED WORD VI - Drawing, Writing

These late Thursday afternoons at the League that I have just begun again ­- and so much is coming back so fast -­ this fine torso of this  fine nude person in front of me is joined, I suddenly remember, to this fine pelvis by a muscle called the external oblique, which explains this small graceful curve I just drew above the start of the hip.

It is like riding a bicycle, Chris Gallego explains ­ and it is true I have not forgotten -­ back here on this bicycle again as if it is the same time I was last on a bicycle -­ that last time I was taking a piece of charcoal in a line from the pit of the neck running down the sternum between the breasts, down between the halves of the abdominus rectus and riding over the navel and down over the pubis and continuing now along the inner left leg all the way to the foot that holds most of the weight and is of necessity planted directly below the chin.

And now, after a few of these open drawing sessions at the League I go to a figure drawing class -­ my first actual class in years -­ at the Woodstock School Art, the place that was what had immediately brought me to Woodstock back in a time that sometimes seems like several lifetimes ago -­ back when everything had changed and was changing and I knew would change again.

Chris Gallego, who teaches this new class in Woodstock, had been at the Art Students League in the mid-eighties just before I was there and we know all these characters in common -­ and all the places around town where you could draw from models at any hour of day or night, from the fairly plush, historic Salamagundi Club to a famous dirt-encrusted basement place in Soho, and all the art schools in between.

And it is all still there, though some of the personnel have changed -­ yet no more, I trust, than at the League -­ where everyone I see seemed a counterpart of everyone I would see there 20 years ago.

And when the drawing pad is in front of me and I am tied to the model - ­ wedded at the moment -­ by a stick of charcoal, I feel waves of happiness that I felt 20 years ago -­ this time this is me -­ there was no family precedent for this, and no one is around to tell me, as my late lifetime friends constantly told me in the past, that I should forget about all these visual things. You are a writer, aren't you? You can't do that! You're a writer. Writers are supposed to write.

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