chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: sketching

drafts

DAK color study - backThe shelves and file drawers still bulge with my mother’s small paintings, drawings, handmade paper, collages and other ephemera. I consider these one by one, as I do the photographs, hoping for insight.

A rejected portrait of a pear occupies the back of an undated, unsigned 6 x 9-inch abstract color study on Arches paper. Dorothy applied the paint — perhaps acrylic — in translucent glazes, considering the colors, the roundness, the gloss of the fruit. But in the end, it was not the pear she wanted and before using the other side, she scribed a firm X through her effort.

She often painted on top of previous paintings, preserving some elements or obliterating the original entirely. But something about this pear was evidently beyond redemption — perhaps its bulging shoulder or pinched waist — and could only remain a haunting substratum to any future image. Still, she loved pears as both food and objects and painted them summer after summer.

Whether with brushes or words, we keep trying to get it right, every poem or essay (the very word!) a sketch, an underlayer to something better — or not. We pick away at vision and understanding, archaeologists with dental tools, miniaturists peering through the magnifying lens, hoping some part of the image will resolve, make sense, escape, for a while, the banishing X.
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more on sketches

drawing…

jik by DAK ~ detailFor the first time in more than two decades, I am doing some sketching. Invited to join a weekly drawing and painting group, I’ve discovered a cache of colored pencils, partially unused pads of paper and within me the desire to explore a skill never developed but always admired.

My hand feels like a club, my eye dizzied by the complexity of texture, layer, line, everywhere I look. I pretend to be patient with the struggle. This is not about technique. It is about attention, focus, seeing.

Of all the artwork my mother did, her drawing was most her own. She had an acuteness of eye and a delicacy of hand that was unique and consistent, whether she was scrawling in charcoal or doing a quick pencil sketch on the blank page of an annual report.

As I draw, feeling clumsy and half-blind, I look down to see her hand holding the pencil and, here and there, her lines settling light upon the paper.
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jik by DAK © 1968 (detail)

eleven…

jik at 11 by DAK, sketched on the back of a Christmas cardEleven was an awful age. My body was longer every day, but still a child’s. My curly hair shorn by a barber, I felt ugly, buck-toothed. But worse, perhaps, was the sense of being caught in some inarticulate in-between place, where neither childhood nor adulthood were accessible, and where I might hover, in purgatory, forever. Not girl, not woman, not cute, not pretty, I became acutely aware of the voluptuous changes in the girls around me, shared in the whispered secrets but could not claim or pretend to be in any way different myself. I thought I might be a boy, a changeling, an alien. Not yet adolescent enough to be embarrassed by my mother, I was embarrassed by my self. My mother, who had no insights or balms to offer, seemed to recognize in me a familiar awkwardness and sketched me again and again until I escaped her view and she was forced to turn for a model to the gawky girl she saw in the mirror.
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sketched on the back of a Christmas card: jik at 11 by DAK

these random sketches…

fiber sketches by j.i. kleinbergWe studied textiles. We sat at looms. On long woven samplers, we traced the history of weaving. We threaded cards and heddles. We twined and knotted and looped our way through the millennia.

Then we twisted and bent and folded and amplified what we had learned to find our own language of fiber. One of the women said, I hate making all these little pieces; I have a drawer full of them. I want to make something big. And Ed Rossbach said, Think of Leonardo: all those drawings. Think how many sketches Leonardo made.

I am no Leonardo, but I remember Ed Rossbach, and I keep sketching…these words…here.