Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Donald (Justice) portrait, first try

As you may know (if you read sidebar) I have an art opening coming up in December in the intimate upstairs studio/dining space at the Cornelia Street Cafe. I had suggested to Robin Hirsch, one of the owners, that I feature the small impromptu sketches I do of poets and writers as they give readings. I'd call it something like "Poets Corner at Cornelia" and feature as many poets as I can that have graced the small vibrant downstairs performance space with their words (plus a few that would have undoubtedly read there if they weren't otherwise deceased). Robin liked my small works but after a moment of staring at the 3 x 5 inch pencils and watercolors, asked if I could perhaps also work a little bigger. I blithely assured him I would do various sizes. And I have worked MUCH larger--too big for these walls and not with this subject matter...

Scale is a bitch. Did I just say that out loud? What works in postcard size doesn't automatically improve with enlargement. So now I am politely asking my muse how to revise my process. So far, she isn't returning my face book pleadings and "likes" on her enigmatic comments.

I tried a surrealistic photo shop collage for Sylvia Plath but suspect I need to stick with paper, pencil, and paints.

This weekend my daughter Caitlin helped me temporarily turn our living room into an art studio. Out came easel, thick arches watercolor paper, brushes, and pliers to undo gummed up tubes of paint.

I love the words of Donald Justice and wish I could have met him. But he is, alas, in that category of poet that can only pose past tense.

But how do I work? In my quick sketches, I scribble in the dark, shade/smudge with my pinkie, and add color at my peril since I can't really see what I'm doing. How do I do this at home with too much time to get precise or timid?

My friend Jeanne Marie Beaumont was once at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference when Justice was there. She assures me he was, as he appears in the photos, nice, rather shy, and more focused on the work of making poetry than working the business of being a poet.

He has a great poem about a dress maker's dummy in the attic, a naked ghost that appealed to his teenage imagination.

So here is my first sketch, with dummy, pre-paint... and I will try other approaches...want to work in some couplets from the poem... (penciled in, photocopied and stuck to the paper, pin pricked calligraphy?) Now if I only knew what were the color of his eyes...?

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