Music & Art High School, my alma mater required art majors to keep a sketchbook with them, so I got into the habit or drawing all the time. Now, most of my subjects come from the sketchbook “in my head” although I still draw from life or the newspaper. My latest work is a studio wall filled with faces, forty at last count. I know them all and we converse late into the night.
About thirty years ago, I started to sketch dancing couples at “gala” events like weddings. My subjects were real in the sense that they were not the glamorous Ken and Barbie dolls you see at ballroom competitions on TV; they were mostly incongruously matched, inappropriately dressed klutzes, but still, having the time of their lives. I even liked the way they counted to the music (must have taken lessons.) I turned my sketches into a performance piece for the overhead projector, replete with tasteless music.
I never idealize my people; I want them raw and rugged, the way they are in real life: lumps, bumps and all. They come from decades of sketching at Government Center meetings, or Breakfast at Curley’s; it’s like I have a giant sketchbook in my head that keeps spilling out images.
I have never been able to “capture a likeness,” maybe because I never really worked hard enough to acquire the necessary skills, but I am good at creating “life” in my paintings. My goal is not to be a camera, but to get my subjects to talk to me, look into my eyes and tell me what they are thinking.