The figure drawing scene

Since I have an art exhibit coming up soon, I thought I’d post an excerpt from my novel, Happy That It’s Not True (2012, Aignos Publishing).

A tall brown haired woman entered the room. She was wearing a long robe and was talking quietly to Diego.
“You’ve done this before?” Diego whispered.
“Uh-huh,” she nodded.
“Okay, want to try a reclining pose—since it’s late in the day and you’re probably tired?”
The woman walked across the room, stepped up onto the platform, took her robe off, and used it to partially cover herself as she laid down for the pose. Cara noticed that the woman wasn’t particularly attractive, and found it hard not to stare at her imperfections. The robe, however, was quite stunning—the color of pearl, patterned with stylized orchids. It was spread out underneath the model, causing her skin to glow.
As the students sketched, Diego noticed that Priscilla was frozen with fear and came and stood beside her.  Diego pointed to Cara and it practically startled Priscilla, who for a moment thought that the two had conspired to mock her.
“You see that student over there? —she’s the only person that knew to turn the drawing pad horizontally, since the model is lying down like a landscape. So—first time?” Diego turned her drawing pad on its side.
“Uh yeah—someone told me about this class. To tell you the truth, I can’t even draw a straight line.” Priscilla said.
“I can’t draw a straight line either—I would need a ruler for that,” Diego chuckled.
“All I can draw are stick figures.”
“Mind if I draw on your paper?”
Diego took a pencil and scribbled circular shapes. “This is a gesture drawing; this will help loosen you up. It’s not supposed to look like anything, but it trains you to see—and to draw what you see. Try it. Just look at the model—you don’t even have to look at the paper. Just feel the shapes with your eyes and the tip of your pencil.”
Diego gave the pencil to Priscilla and walked away to make a lap around the class, looking over shoulders—pleased by some drawings, alarmed by others. “If you’re new to all this, I hope you really enjoy this experience. I hope that it will taste sweet to you, and leave you thirsting for more.” Diego paused to nod knowingly at Cara.
“Someone once said that drawing is a discipline of awareness. Have you noticed that the model is a masterpiece of light and shadow? Do you see her as an extension of yourself?” Diego raised his brows.
“The world wants us to believe that we’re all somehow different, that some people are better than others because of their wealth or education or skills or talents or ethnicity or some form of outward appearance. No es verdad. It’s not true at all. We’re all the same.”
“Some people are crazy,” said one of the students.
“Yes, for some, madness waits in the cover of night to tear the soul to pieces. But you shouldn’t be so quick to judge. One day madness might come looking for you,” Diego smiled.
“I hope not.”
“Carl Jung once said that we all carry a shadow—that if you don’t bring it up to the surface, it becomes blacker and blacker. I think that’s why it’s so important to create—to get out all the madness, before it consumes us.”
“I think some people are just plain evil.”
“The argument never ends. Genetics, environment, freewill, predestination—I could be wrong, but I still believe we’re all basically the same. We’re all very different, of course. But we’re all the same. What a paradox.”index
Diego smirked and tilted his head to show that it wasn’t important to him if anyone accepted his point of view. “So, again I ask—do you see this model as an extension of yourself? Try to identify with this model. You may not realize it, but she’s telling a story. Ask yourself, is she tired? Has she recently fallen in love? Or are her perceptions clouded by heartbreak? Has she given up searching for answers? Has she lost her faith? Could she have father issues? Is she afraid? Is she content with the simple and fleeting pleasures of life, but wondering if perhaps there is a little bit more to living? Ask yourself, is she a little bit like you?”

Happy That It’s Not True is available on Amazon

© 2012 Carlos Aleman


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