Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The shadow cast by a drawn line.

Dear Drawing,
I met an artist this summer who said (of herself ) she was "such a 19th century artist" with a little delighted chuckle at her drawing.  At least I think she said 19th, now I worry she might have said 18th?  In any event, I took it to mean that she had an affinity for drawing detail and realism.  Her drawings were convincing and filled with specificity.  Also, and this is where it gets interesting, a quietness.  How did that get in there?  I don't know.  One of her drawings was filled with people and cars, and a giant radio antenna tower, yet is felt as open and calm as meadow with a few cows.  Is this how the 21st century looks if you draw it right?
Which is related in the usual Dodo round about way, to the image above; of Mary Cassatt's pastel boxes.  What beautiful cylinders of color!  I have many boxes and sets of pastels, and watercolors too, and I buy little palettes of eyeshadow for the same joy in possessing the little slabs of color all in their places. 
Last summer, at the Georgia O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe, there were Ms.O'Keeffe's box of drawing things in a vitrine to be admired.  It was charming, and compelling, and even a bit haunted in all the best ways imaginable. 
Consider the etymology of the word pastel, and ponder with me it's relationship to one of the Spanish definitions of the word: cake.  Is the because cakes are also made of paste (ground flour say) or is it that the color of cakes is pale, or is it the shape of the French drawing crayon?  The Spanish pastel also can refer to el dibujo or el color (de tono suave).  All this puts me in a mood to bake a pale cake of great detail and calm, and then to draw said cake in pastel shades, like our old pal Wayne Thiebaud, except he never made the cakes he drew, which means, if you are inclined to be competitive, you can easily win this round of who's the most authentic draughtsperson* of desserts.,
Wayne Thiebaud, Four Cakes, pastel on paper, 1996.
Wayne Thiebaud, Pastel Scatter, pastel on paper, 1972.
*  Yes, it would have saved letters to write drafts-  vs. draughts- but isn't it fun to dabble in harmless excess?