When planning began for portrait drawing Dominique reacted a bit. She claimed she couldn’t draw. She wondered why she would want to spend the day doing something she knew she was not good at. Logical. Eventually she clarified, she could not draw well. This is what didn’t fly with me. I wasn’t asking anyone to draw well. But I understood. I wasn’t sure she would participate. I had an alternate plan if that was the case. Upon arriving to my studio that Saturday afternoon, she was fully committed to drawing. She entered with humor in tow, in the form of a brown bag with eyes and mouth cutouts. She was going to wear the bag over her head and draw exactly what she saw. She smiled widely as she showed it to me.
Everyone brought a prop. An object that could be drawn into the portrait, to inform us about the person drawn. Her play prop was the brown bag. Her real object was a shell. She collects them. She has hundreds of shells. Recently I spent an afternoon with her, looking and learning about land shells and sea shells. So much great variety.
Dominique completed several warm up drawings that afternoon. They were good, as you can see. As she progressed we all decided her work was very good. Maybe she agreed at some point. Eventually she explained why exactly she was not drawn to drawing a representational portrait.
Later her and I discussed learning to see and putting down what one sees, as opposed to being creative. She knew she was not being creative. I appreciated she understood the difference. Dominique is a careful observer, she is a biologist. She has an eye for detail. Putting down on paper what she saw, seemed to come very natural. Her eyes and hand coordinated very well.
Dominique is a Yogi. And she is steadfast. She prepared for her final-self portrait, while sitting crossed legged. She inhaled deeply several times. I watched, as with each breath, she became centered. She asked one very good question about working organically, and as soon as she understood the answer, she moved into a freer space. She completed the drawing by adding her shell to the lower right area and to the left she wrote, Why is she so serious, dammit! Dominique can be serious, but loosens and lightens very readily. Probably easier than I do. Her final portrait, on the left, is impressive. The drawing tool…a Sharpie marker. Understand this means there is no erasing.
Dominique is interesting in that she appears to always be so fully present. She observes, listens, acts and reacts to the world with all of herself. Bright. Curious. Open. Her eyes, her mind, words, her body, hands…all of her participates.
Her written statement chooses to focus on…What is this world and what is my relationship to it. When I first read her thoughts I get such clear pictures of how to approach the design. I decide her words are personal, literal and grounded. As I start to collect materials, I am confused and reread her statement. Maybe her words are not so personal, not literal, but metaphorical and abstract. And they become more so as I reread them. Poetic. Water, air and maybe ether…more than ground.
This world, this planet with green lungs, is a space traveler packed with life in all of its many-fold splendor. This sentence paints the inside of the mask. I imply green lungs within a moving water and space spiral.
It teems with a huge variety of living things, each a supreme example of the pluripotency of life. Even the likes are unlike each other, each member of each species, animal or plant, is a little work of living art. A nicely stated truth.
Even the inert parts of our planet, the mineral kingdom, is rife of evidence of past and present plasticity. It is always changing and one can hardly keep ones eyes open enough to see even a small part of the action.
I scribble onto my sketch pad…Pattern. Variety. Shapes. Movement. Connecting threads. Spirals. There will be lots of activity within an order of some sort.
Water, of course is always mobile and truly the “sine qua non” spring of life…this sentence floats by itself. It resets my thought for the inside of the mask.
Back to the world and her relationship to it…I am an infinitesimally small part of its magnificence, trying to honor life by actively participating in it. What a statement of identification. An active participant in every way…could in fact describe Dominique.
She signs off, Verdentia.
Is she referring to Truth? The color green? Yes!…I can almost hear her say loudly, though she is nowhere near me as I write.
Dominique loves the color green, truly, she does. Green is an appropriate color to represent this potent life form.