Thursday, July 30, 2015

Face 600

The experts and the art teachers will always tell you: draw a hundred drawings and paint a hundred pictures as quickly as you can, and learn from the making of them; then throw them all away, and start on the next hundred. Eventually, you never know, you may well get there.

I have never been entirely certain where "there" is, or what benchmarks exist to recognise it if you do. A wall at the Tate Modern with your name-plaque on it? That may actually be a sign of failure, not success, but who can say? A gallery in touristville offering prints of your work at discount prices, buy one get one free? A marginal reference in a footnote to an obscure PhD thesis in a minor university? Ah, posterity, which, like immortality, is only of any use to you when you are dead.

So I made this drawing when I was eighteen or nineteen, and it didn't look the slightest bit like the girl - a friend of my sister's - who modelled for it; and the eyes do not conform to any known pattern of human symmetry, though of course they may also have been the one thing in the drawing that I got absolutely right. Is the mouth skew-wiff? And is that even how you spell skew-wiff?

To this day, nothing in the world will induce me to follow the advice of the experts and throw it away. I like it. Isn't that good enough?

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