The Line Must Be Drawn Here, Part II
In a past article, I discussed my struggles with drawing things in perspective and in making organic forms recognizable. Shortly after posting that piece, I signed up for a “Drawing and Composition” class at a JC up the hill from our house. The course catalogue listed my four-hour class as “beginner through advanced,” and, never having taken an art class before, I feared that I’d be surrounded by a bunch of recent high school graduates, prone to wield the phrase, “Uhh. That’s so obvious.” My artistic development is not yet ready for that phrase:
The Artistic Development of Jeff Lewis
Ages 0-3: I drew squiggles and lacked a cohesive style.
Ages 3-11: Subject matter confined to pictures of tanks and planes shooting at dinosaurs and giant spiders. Occasionally, a robot shot at the dinos and spiders and on rare occasions, the planes wreaked havoc with both bombs and air-to-surface missiles.
Ages 12-23: Artistic output limited to a few vector images rendered on a Xerox computer workstation (the original desktop operating system that Apple and Microsoft ripped off). My most notable piece was a pointy-nosed man reminiscent of an overweight Spy vs. Spy character, called “Not Nice, Not Happy.” “Not Nice, Not Happy” lacked the compositional and emotional complexity of my tank-shooting-spider phase, and I still had not cracked 3-D. This was a regressive stage in my development.
Age 24: Inspired by my friend Bob—a cartoonist who specialized in buxom, amply-buttocksed women—I completed my first work that generated praise from someone other than my grandmother: I was commended for the drawer-like mouth that I gave Bob’s whiskey-guzzling likeness on his birthday card. He was kind enough not to focus on the two left thumbs.
Ages 25-32: Other than doodles of slugs and lemurs (no opposable thumbs) on the occasional birthday card, my output was nonexistent.
Ages 32-Present: Artistic fits and starts, as described in The Line Must Be Drawn Here.
As you see, my background is not impressive, so when I wandered from one art store to another, trying to find the class’s recommended art supplies, I felt like a fraud. My problem, I realized, was that my only window into art classes was Claire Fischer’s Six Feet Under intensity, not the junior college night class reality. I worried that in our first class, I’d immediately have to begin sketching a nude in some appalling lunging or squatting pose. Instead, we had the choice between sketching an elephant or stork, both rendered in wicker.
My instructor, Robert Horning, is a pleasant man who trained for a time as an entomologist and produces, among other things, paintings of genetically enhanced dung beetles sipping tea and taking baths. I found that very comforting.
After only a few classes, Mr. Horning’s advice paid dividends and I’ve been able to boldly embrace the third dimension; my confidence was such that I decided to create drawings for the Authors and Topics pages in Babblog (I quickly scrapped the pictures of the authors—because I’ve been spared from life drawing so far, I can’t draw faces yet). The project took far longer than I expected, but I was satisfied with the results, so when Babblog went live, I was excited that my drawings were part of it. Unfortunately, I was a bit too excited, and like Bridget Jones and her compulsive checking of her answering machine messages, I constantly viewed Babblog’s page-hit counter to see how many people had seen the icons.
I was surprised to find that the “Topics” option on Babblog’s navigation bar is nearly universally ignored, so my drawings went unnoticed, my ego unfed. To keep myself from utter collapse, I will now artificially boost my confidence by presenting to you: Icons::Jeff Lewis—The Complete Babblog Collection, 2005. (In addition, I plan to leave myself a bunch of comments, telling myself how nearly competent I am at drawing).
The Complete Babblog Collection, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 by Jeff Lewis