Our native ability is infinitely more powerful than we commonly believe. Creating art is a channel to that realization for me.
While an Art student at UC Davis in the late ‘60’s, I took some theatrical set design classes and spent time in the set shop. One of my teachers, Gene Chesley, was a hell of a guy and a key influence on me.
One time he asked me to transfer a drawing of a sunset on a piece of paper to the entire stage backdrop canvas for a production – about 20’ high and 60’ long. He suggested I use a grid on the paper and a larger grid on the canvas and draw in each square.
Seemed like a lot of work to me, so I just had the canvas stretched onto the set elevator covering entire back wall of the shop, found a 15’ piece of 1×1 lumber, taped a large piece of charcoal to end and drew directly on the canvas with my giant pencil.
The whole shop was abuzz about what I was doing – they’d never seen anything like it before and I could have easily ruined an expensive piece of canvas.
Then Gene walked in and everything got quiet … I could tell he had been expecting something quite different; my canvas was not an exact 1 for 1 rendering of the original drawing. I don’t know if he was smiling or biting his lip, but he didn’t jump on me or call me a lazy bastard, he just said “well OK, this will work”.
I look back at him now and admire his ability to grant beingness so, so much – truly a great man who left us way too young.
I recently learned that Henri Matisse also drew with a long stick sometimes … maybe Gene knew that.
One of my recent favorites. I am fascinated by the viewer’s participation in reconstructing the image. The neck doesn’t have to be behind the shirt collar, the shirt collar can be vertical, the hands don’t have to be connected to arms and shoulders, the eyes don’t need whites. This is communication.
Every once in a while I draw something where I say to myself “Wow, I really nailed it that time”. This is one of those. The head is reminiscent of one in Picasso’s Guernica. Though it wasn’t intentional, Picasso’s work is certainly one of my greatest influences.