Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Shared Humanity

I had a discussion with my wife recently about art. We talked about drawing people and how I said that I try looking for some spark of character that will make the drawing interesting. “ What character do you see and admire in the people you draw?”, she asked.
“Well, I don’t look for a particular character”, I responded. So she asks again, “But what is the character you admire in people that you like to draw?” At this I respond by telling her that I don’t consciously look for a particular character but that I try to get across with pencil and paper or with paint something so familiar that it becomes more than a drawing. By character I mean , (when it comes to people), something that we recognize in the drawing then in ourselves, something in common, a shared humanity, a memory. It needn’t be noble or mean, just honest.
When I observe people on the subway, searching for someone to draw, I may wonder what their life story is. Do they have a family, wife and children, that their going home to? They maybe single or still living with their parents or some relative. Are they taking care of an older relative? It doesn’t particularly matter to the drawing what the story really is but that somehow I communicate some sense of humanity and that you can read the experience of life, not the particulars but the feeling of it. The drawing might wake up some sense of recognition or nostalgia and become something more than clever.

My wife who inspired the discussion and this post

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