Drawing and redrawing this duo, I have a bird on my brain — and a frog teapot. I no longer know if I am making studies for the painting, or if I’m just obsessed with the motif. Degas had advised artists to redraw the same thing ten times, a hundred times. He also said that you should draw things from different angles — and he was true to his word as his drawing of the circus performer Miss La La of the Cirque Fernando amply demonstrates. (She is seen from below, hanging from a trapeze by her mouth.)
I had to find something that mesmerizes me sufficiently before I began drawing the same things from lots of different angles. Who would have guessed that it’d be a blue jay figurine and a frog teapot.
Little drawing in a notebook
— near the end of the session I made some small sketches. The one above is about 4 inches in height. I had drawn the head in pastel, larger than life size, on a standard sheet of Canson paper. I had been looking at the pose for most of the three hour session and I could no longer see my drawing. The drawing was right there. My eyes were working fine. Glasses, clean. But my brain was “give out” as my relatives used to say so I made some sketches to address the questions that lingered.
I was sitting in front of other artists. To avoid blocking their view I was sitting on the floor and the model on the stand was slightly above me so I saw her head slightly at an angle, slightly foreshortened.
I made the first of the sketches in my pocket calendar. This drawing is about three inches high.
This smallest of the drawings felt most connected to my large drawing. It’s rainy today so I’ve just photographed the pastel on the easel in the present light, such as it is. At least the easel communicates some of the scale of the drawing.
I see now that I forgot to take the manufacturer’s sticker off the sheet of paper!
My other little sketches are less structured, yet each one seems to get some little bit of information. After a while I was tired but it was still pleasant to think with the pen.
Even an inaccurate drawing communicates a bit of mood sometimes. Ideas sneak in.
The proper structure of the underside of her jaw was a big question. The other special challenge was getting the left side of her face since in the course of posing it would wax and wane as the model shifted slightly. She was an amazingly disciplined model. No one can sit perfectly still. Her left eye wasn’t even visible most of the pose but it appears in my large drawing so perhaps it was visible at the beginning. I’m not sure …
(Some of the other drawings from the life class are here. And the first ideas for the series, here.)