Sunday, May 2

and other observations

Eric goes off.

material culture: dead trees, part 2

Last month, I posted some bits of sketches. Details from three or four out of maybe a hundred I've done lately.

The past five or six years, I've owned a series of sketchbooks. Little ones, big ones, skinny spiral bound things and fat cheap tablets. Most of them are full, after a fashion. The truth is, though, that I don't really draw and I haven't since I was a little kid. Even when I was taking classes and pretending part time to be an art student, I did precious little in the way of trying to reproduce any of what I saw.

What I did do was obsessively fill the margins of every piece of paper I laid hands on with spidery, decorative abstractions.

I took a drawing class one semester from a guy named Wayne. I don't mean to imply any disrespect by omitting his surname, it's just that for the life of me I can't remember it. What I do remember is that Wayne didn't like comic art, or flaming swords, or much of anything that I put on paper. Wayne pissed me off.

Wayne was right. Not about the comic art, and maybe not about the flaming sword, but he nailed the rest of it. I was being lazy, and indulging this ridiculously constrained little habit instead of pushing myself into uncomfortable territory or learning how to see the world better.

A while ago, I noticed that I'd gone and bought this smallish book. Cheap, and as I remember it the only one left on the shelf. Maybe 8.5 by 5.5 inches, kind of thick, made out of recycled paper, picture of a tree on the cover. Perforated pages, square binding. Nothing perfect about it at all, not the kind of beautiful object I usually wind up with and feel worried I might ruin. It had this great utilitarian feel to it, like it just needed to be used. Like a good pair of cargo pants - the ones that have enough pocket room for eight paperbacks and go through a two-stage life-cycle where you eventually realize it's hot out and take a pair of scissors to the legs.

So now maybe I'm learning how to draw.