Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Musing from the Beach

Well, here we are, at the southern tip of Topsail Island and the weather reports have called for thunderstorms and fog every day and this is the first day that it's actually been cloudy ... no rain, no fog, perfect weather. It's just as well there's no sun today, our skin needs a break and I have a book to finish. I've been reading an amazing book that I highly recommend -  "The Undressed Art - Why We Draw" by Peter Steinhart. 

The author is a naturalist and writer who has been going to figure drawing groups for the last fifteen years. He takes a naturalist's eye for observation and detail in looking at why we draw and what compels us to it. He writes about the variety of groups out there, who attends and why we keep coming back. It's about how we see, how our brains work differently when we draw, the importance of observation and memory. On that subject, he tells of James McNeill Whistler, while teaching in Paris, placed his model on the ground floor and student's easels upstairs, so students had to observe and then walk up a flight of stairs before drawing. As the term progressed, he moved the easels higher and by the end of the term, the students and their easels were on the 6th floor. And you thought the one minute poses were challenging!

It's all about the allure, the ritual, why the figure, the models ... he covers it all and I've relished every page.

Well, the sun has come out after all, so much for Weather Central. A few more days here (the truth is, I don't know what day this is, nor do I care) and I look forward to seeing you all back at Figure Drawing on Monday where we'll be drawing Linda ... because we have to draw.

"... In these groups, I have made long-standing acquaintances and friendships, and it is clear to me that for many of us, drawing is a kind of compulsion. Every week, we drop family and work and draw together ... There is a dogged quality to what we are doing. We come back week after week, happy to see one another, grateful, I think, for our shared complicity in a doubtful activity. It is doubtful because its most noticeable attributes are nudity, desire, effort and failure. It's all funneled through a kind of meditative state that is internal and private, for the most part incommunicable except in the drawings themselves. It is by turns erotic and puritanical, social and narcissistic, uplifting and depressing." Peter Steinhart


  1. Are you painting or drawing while at the beach?

    Anyway, I am wrapping up work on one painting and will send you a photo for via email to see if it might join your Library show for June.

    Cheers! - Brian Burgess

  2. Some drawing, swimming mostly ... and lots of picture taking. Can't wait to see your work for the show!