Monday, October 4, 2010

Drawing It Out

What we play is life?

Louis Armstrong
I have a book on learning how to draw by Robert Beverly Hale, "Anatomy Lessons from the Great Masters." In a very active and full career as an artist, writer and lecturer, Hale also was an instructor in drawing at the Art Students League in New York City. I was blessed to be able to take his last 12 classes before he retired back up to New England. He had an infectious joy in art, an amazingly perceptive eye for the best in his students' works and a sense of humor.

Is music notes in a score correctly played? Is poetry a proper string of words depicting an image?. Is painting expertly made brush stokes? Is drawing the human figure accurate lines on a piece of paper? What did the old masters know that we need to know?

One evening at the Cafe Carlyle in New York I saw Mabel Mercer sing "Both Sides Now" and when she sang "I really don't know love at all" my heart burst and tears came. I thought if Mabel Mercer, in her long and magical life, didn't know love than no one did.

Right now I'm listening to Nathan Milstein play the Bach Chaconne for solo violin. It is an amazing 14 minute journey through human experiences and when I hear it I feel privileged to be a part of Bach's and Milstein's life.

If it's great art it's not just tones, words, colors and lines, it's not just melodies, poems and pictures. Look behind those things, look beyond them to what is really there. The dancer is dancing it, the musician is playing it, the author is writing it, the actor is acting it, the painter is painting it.

There comes a point in the study of life drawing when you stop drawing a human figure and start drawing a human being. You start drawing life.

Dana Bate
The Vagabond

(This is not a contest.)

At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?

2 responses so far.

Thank you.


Nance said...

A lovely, philosophical post and a nice end to my day.

Autumn Answer: I would like to be present for the first public reading given by Jane Austen.

DB said...

Thank you Nance, duly noted and filed.

Beth said...

"There comes a point in the study of life drawing when you stop drawing a human figure and start drawing a human being. You start drawing life."

That may be one of the coolest things I've ever read, D. Just beautiful! :)

Anonymous said...

What Beth said. And... every time I hear someone sing Both Sides Now I cry. I must be getting old.

krissy knox said...

dana, john and i were talking about music, and painting and all the things you mentioned, just a couple of days ago. "what makes the music so magical?" i asked. it's like it has a life unto itself. "when does it stop being music and take on, well, the sume of it's parts?" and when does something you are drawing actually come to, well, almost embody the spirit of a human being?" i was perplexed bc, since beginning to listen to classical music, and listening to opera (you helped me with that one!), and watching certain, say, morality plays, things have bcome alive to me, almost taken on a spirit of their own. john explained to me about gestalt, and whatever i was considering was MORE than the SUM of IT'S PARTS. somehow that made sense to me. i hope that makes sense to you. krissy :)