For almost 10 years now, I’ve been a graphic designer. Its an interesting and enjoyable job. Everyday, people tell me what they need, I sit down at my glowing screen, move the mouse or stylus around, and in a relatively brief amount of time I’ll produce advertising, informational materials, environmental graphics, and flash animation.
The pay is ok. Not fabulous. Ok.
Anyone who has sketched or painted or sculpted knows there is something missing from the electronic process. Sure, I could get an iPad, and a program and run my fingers across the screen, stopping in annoyance as my fingerprints left more and more marks on the shiny glowing surface.
There’s something about sitting down, and opening that pad of paper, or fixing a new piece to the sketch-board, opening a box of pencils with that wood-shaved smell, and moving the pencil across the paper. Writers who write longhand probably have an idea of what I mean. The electronic medium doesn’t allow for the feeling of point against texture. The challenge of weighting lines and shading depending on the speed and pressure of the pencil. The tactile feel of the paper under the fingertip when blending medium into planes of light and shadow. I can’t say that I’ve ever found a tool or equipment that’s capable of reproducing the same sensation.
Then, there’s the subject matter…
I draw nudes. Male nudes. The poses range from the classic to the kinkily erotic. Its very enjoyable to able to sit and stare openly at a naked man without shyness. Sometimes the clinical eye takes over and before me sits muscle, and sinew, blood and bone, cartilage and flesh. But then, he breathes. He has a twinkle in his eye. Sometimes in the excitement of feeling my eyes on his flesh, his penis moves. Hardens. Sometimes he loses his concentration while posing and his eyes lock with mine. I try to concentrate, but sometimes in a room full of men staring at a single naked man, the erotic tension is palpable. You can almost smell the sensual charge in the air.
There is also time – ticking away is the mortal enemy. Each pose is limited. We must allow the model to rest. Capturing the light and gesture. The turn of a wrist. The fleshy muscular mound of a rounded butt, or a mounded chest. A muscular back. Lips, upper lip with a bead of sweat threatening to roll off the edge. Abs, sometimes washboard, other, furry Buddah-belly, or ranging in between. The lines must be economical. Controlled, as they follow the lines, the planes, and the contours of the man.
I draw to build a body of work, but at heart I am a sensualist. Every act, from breathing, to tasting – from listening to music, to arguing a point – the act must excite the senses. Drawing excites me. After my Thursday class, I was accustomed to visiting a neighbor-friend of mine. I would bring in my sketches. He would pour us two fingers of a good Scotch. We’d smell the peaty burn and sip and look at the night’s work. Sketching over time, like most processes, brings marked improvement the longer you do it.
I’ll miss those times. There will be more distance between our visits as money sometimes trumps the appreciation of art and the development of good friendships. Since neither of us is independently wealthy, I have a job. It pays the bills. He has a new job. It will pay the bills.
This is life.
This makes me sad. I’ll miss him.
So I’ll sketch on Thursday nights, and I’ll work on compiling a body of work, and when he comes to visit, there will be more to view as we sip, and hopefully the creations will improve. Its a process.