If I could be somebody else, say some fabulous gal from art history, you don’t have to ask me twice who I’d pick. Mme Moitessier, the London version, by J.A.D. Ingres.
I want that dress! I contemplate Mme Moitessier, de temps en temps, with a pen in hand, and I think I see a little of myself in her. In the drawings below I was doing her from memory.
Refreshed my memory a little between sketches, and thus the fan she holds in her left hand begins to drift into place.
I should warn readers that portraying yourself as someone else may reveal things about yourself that you’d rather not know. It does give your subconscious free rein, a time to play, and a time to get heavy! My inner Madame Moitessier is a little scary.
She gets a little more scary with each iteration. Woah! Better get back to landscape!
Madame Moitessier and Miss Hyde!
My idea of what a drawing is has gotten bigger even as the drawings themselves sometimes get smaller. I used to be so picky about what I would let myself call a “drawing.” As I’ve gotten older, I let my hair down. Though the drawing be less, though the hair sometimes be less as well, I let it go. I was uptight in my youth. I’m a free spirit now.
There are so many ways of drawing. These days I am as apt to make drawings that are like mental notes as I am to make careful depictions of things. And one relates well to the other. You make the note to remind yourself to depict at a later date.
And this drawing involves an exercise in wool-gathering. I drew an imaginary place that’s based upon a real place, but one that is fuzzy in dim memory. There was a still pond surrounded by trees.
Indeed, this drawing is like the sentence “There was a still pond surrounded by trees.” It’s just that much and no more.
At the arboretum where I photograph the real koi, you’re not allowed to touch them. They have a slime coat that is vulnerable to injury if millions of hands reach out to pet them, day after day, season after season. Nobody told the koi, these koi who are always hungry no matter how much food they’ve eaten, and they are remarkably outgoing and indiscriminate in their affections. I must look exactly like all the other humans to them, especially the ones with the bags of food, so they come up to the surface and are very available for petting.
Not that I pet them. I never pet them. There’s a sign right there telling you not to pet them. I obey the sign, but it’s perfectly obvious that the koi cannot read.
However, I can pet my own fish anytime I want. Mine have a wax coat. It’s vulnerable to smudging, but I’m careful not to smudge my fish.