Self Portrait, 1979
I may be a big fan of computers, iPads and all things labeled modern technology, but my favorite tool for drawing still has to be the basic #2, 'non-digital' pencil! Give me a sketchpad, a pencil and an eraser, and I'm all set to spend a few hours drawing people. I love to draw faces. My final year at Queens College, back in 1979, was spent working on a series of pencil sketches of me. Imagine staring at yourself in the mirror for an entire year! When I had my senior exhibition, professors at the school went into the room (without me) to evaluate my work and when they emerged from their secretive meeting, one professor who didn't know me well came right up to me (much closer than would be normally comfortable) to examine every mark, bump and feature on my face. He must have found my drawings interesting because he began a conversation with me just so he could continue to stare at his subject!

I have always been fascinated with hands. Going way back in time, a teacher at my junior high once told us as we took a tour around the school to notice how the portraits in the hallway did not have hands. She had said, "They are very hard to draw and artists will often leave them out!" That was not the first time I thought a teacher was ridiculous. (I hope my students don't think that of me!!!) So I took her up on her challenge and I usually find a way to include them in my drawings. Hah! The angles and lines of the fingers are really no different from getting the features of a face just right. It is a matter of learning how to see.

A skill you learn quickly when you draw from life is how to make it appear that you are not staring at people when you sketch them. One lady on an express bus actually did notice after the hour long ride into the city that I was drawing her and asked to see my sketch. Well! She did not enjoy seeing the double chin that I so gracefully added to the under curve of her rounded face. She proceeded to take out of her wallet a 'fat' picture that she saved for  occasions such as this. She told me that she recently lost quite a bit of weight and could I please take away the double chin? I was never going to give her the sketch, so I congratulated her on her success and nodded to her request as we pulled into Port Authority. I draw what I see and the double chin stays!

When I sketch, I draw random people from life, family members (who are generally sleeping) or faces from photographs and magazines. Photos do not move much, or complain! The important thing is to draw. My dad used to keep with him all the time a small sketchbook and his black pilot marker. (Yikes! Drawing with a marker is like doing a crossword puzzle in ink!) We were stuck in traffic once because of an accident and my dad calmly gave up any hope of driving and took out his sketchpad to draw a dog that was hit in the accident. I'll never forget that moment.

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