So our son Liam has his first acceptance letter from one of the art schools that he applied to. He’s turning 19 this fall, leaving home, choosing a trajectory.
I can hardly believe I had anything to do with his creation; I look at him, tall, confident, vulnerable, kind, beautiful, gentle, funny as hell, and I wish sentimentally in retrospect that I’d been a doting parent, a stay-at-home nest mother. It’s like wishing I were a green chair.
I’m grateful to Bill for wanting an armful of children enough to gladly take on every role; all he asked of me was to bring the babies into the light of Terra, to host them in my very flesh and blood, to contribute my bizarre, powerful DNA to the creation of life. To carry them, lay down my life (as women do) to birth them, to feed and change them tenderly until they could stand on their own and reach the snacks, to love them in and out of time and space, to be jointly responsible for their survival.
Other than all of that little has been required of me; I am a free human being. I’ve had the joy of having children without having to give up my independent life. I’ve had the joy of marriage without having to give up my fierceness, or temper my wolf-like nature. I’ve been able to indulge in longing with the knowledge that the lover I long for is always just over the horizon. Bill… He’s like a star, I’m like a planetary system.
And he’s the one with the 2D talent; in addition to the many other impressive genetic contributions of his father, Liam got a skill for rendering in the blood from him and has been drawing since he could hold a pencil.
I’ve really envied his talent as a portrait artist. I’ve always wished that I had the facility to capture a likeness with pen and paper. I’m working both backward and forward to it, sketching every day, also working on top of photographs. There is something about doing each that is really good for my head.
This was yesterday’s work, from a photo taken in Boston by Ryan Anas. It’s gorgeous, but all of the crucial lines in the face and figure came from the original. I’m not sure if I will come forward enough to be able to make this with just my hands, and blank paper, but I aim to try.
I’m short on language to describe digital and hand work (pencil, paint, etc.) on top of photos, I think we all are. It’s not really one thing or another; so many words are required to explain, to clarify what is created, what is altered from life. It’s simpler if the artist doing the altering also snapped the photo, but still not clear-cut.
“Mixed media” is an option, but not a good one. There needs to be a single word or two to describe the work that manages to communicate that it may not have been created from blank space. Suggestions?
And I have curiosity/mixed feelings about some of the techniques used to create from blank space. I know artists who project a photograph onto their canvas on the wall, and take their lines, their proportion, their dimension from the projection. What is that?
Liam is, in my mind, the real thing. He creates the piece in his head, and then transfers it, complete, to the paper. He can start at any point; no roughing in of general lines is required. With warriors, he often starts at the tip of their sword, or boot.
I think this Dali study started with a waxed end of his mustache.
The process of creation fascinates me.
Liam McKinnon, Dali, 2014