Retro Friday: Life Study in Watercolor (1983)

Nap, pencil and watercolor, 1983

Nap, pencil and watercolor, 1983

Maybe I don’t know enough narcissists, but in my experience, people don’t like it very well when you draw them. Even before they see the results. Most people don’t even like to be looked at. One of the best times to draw then, I’ve discovered, is when you catch people asleep. I’ve made quite a few drawings of friends, family and random strangers fast asleep.

I was probably at my best with watercolor in 1983: I worked in it often, took a class, and it suited my mood, which was joy in beauty. I couldn’t let it escape. These days, I’m too tired. I still see the beauty, but I’m more likely to cry over it than grab the watercolor set. Back then, I was readily enraptured. I’d like to regain that skill level and that access to an active emotion toward the things that move me.

This is certainly an unusual sleeping position–half-fetal, half face-down–but it was real, and apparently comfortable enough for me to make these two studies. I did indulge in a bit of Mannerist exaggeration in the sweep and stretch of the leg, but I was so thrilled by the curves and shadows! And believe it or not, the model liked the drawing…without being a narcissist. A good model is so hard to find…


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