I had been looking at old master drawings, and some of them — perhaps Delacroix’s drawings from his trip to Morocco? — had notations in their margins. I figured that anything the old masters did was good for me to try, so if they took notes so would I. I might have intended to paint this later on, but I never did. So it’s all notated up with no where to go.
Well, it was a long time ago. My Hokusai barks at the Heavenly Mailman now. And while I still sometimes take notes on drawings, I only do so for practical reasons. But my dog was cute, and I did cute things like imitate Delacroix taking notes, and I was cute then in other ways, too. It was a cute time, and this, a souvenir of my “cute” phase.
The first Hokusai, meanwhile, said this about drawing: “From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie.“