Why Draw?

I was recently interviewed for Bear World Magazine. It was really cool to be asked to answer questions about my artwork and thoughts on art and the political climate.  It was the first time I have ever been interviewed for anything getting published that I can remember. I've been interviewed by researchers for Jupiter and other research firms when I worked on Wall Street and as a fashion designer, but never for anything like this. I felt like a celebrity for about 10 minutes.

It also got me thinking about why I am drawing and painting and what I want out of it. Because I am not doing it in a vacuum.

This is inspired by photograph of a man named Simone Iachetti.   It's my favorite painting.  It's the second oil painting I ever attempted.  It is above our bed in my house.  I don't want to give it away for money...  But I want the universe to know I am serious about art and want to be successful at it and make a living at it.

This is inspired by photograph of a man named Simone Iachetti.   It's my favorite painting.  It's the second oil painting I ever attempted.  It is above our bed in my house.  I don't want to give it away for money...  But I want the universe to know I am serious about art and want to be successful at it and make a living at it.

I suppose I want Art to be my dream or vision that pulls me along to great circumstances. Like I shouldn't even question what I want because I am just following where the artwork itself takes me and one day I will wake up in some dream world I never could have envisioned for myself if I tried. And I want to be a star in my own, quiet, controlled sort of way. I always fantasized about winning the “best supporting actor” academy award. I wanted to be in a cool band that not everyone knew about...   So, I guess, I would love to be respected and sought after and financially secure, but not demanded from, overwhelmed, and put too much in the spotlight.

Why am I so drawn to drawing images like this instead of puppies and flowers and mountains?

Why am I so drawn to drawing images like this instead of puppies and flowers and mountains?

Truth is, I have what I want. I live in a beautiful house with a great husband and two cats (and soon a puppy!). I have busy, full days every day. I have a full social life. I have work options available to me. What do I want from painting and drawing?

I have a hunger to be terrific at what I do. I'm not competitive with other artists at all. I have no desire to win contests and stand over anyone else like a star. I want to do amazing work that moves people, that turns them on, that makes them feel that love for people and life that I felt as a teenager when all my feelings were so accessible and immediate. I want to give people joy and inspire them to kiss someone or do something extraordinary.

An Image like this would have moved me so much when I was a teenager.  And it would have made me want to create and do things that celebrated the tenderness and warmth this image portrays.

An Image like this would have moved me so much when I was a teenager.  And it would have made me want to create and do things that celebrated the tenderness and warmth this image portrays.

Why do I want that? Because I hate feeling trapped in routine and unable to appreciate what I have. I have been depressed before and I hate that feeling of wondering why I am alive and when is it going to be over and not knowing if it is going to stay so damn hard just to do all the basic stuff that I know can come easy and does for many others. Because I believe that I can inspire other people. I can be some kind of strength that they need and I want to be useful. And maybe I can't crawl into other people's messed up lives and situations and guide them because I am not expert in their troubles. 

But then again, people trying to directly help me often felt invasive and untrue to me. I am not talking about the kind of help that a mom gives when she comes in and takes you out of a bad situation as a kid. Or the kind of help that actually works, like being given enough money for rent for a few months while you get back on your feet with no strings attached. The kind of “help” I never liked was a deep rooting through my psyche by amateurs who have their own agenda and warped judgments. And that kind of help, proffered by well-intentioned people and books and magazines is everywhere, uninvited and pervasive.

No, unless I was actually going to be carried through something by someone else, I have had little use for "help". But Inspiration was a different story.  Movies, art, music, photography, pets, volunteering, travel, all these things have always kicked up some energy in me and got me moving in the right direction.

I remember being in an awful lonely state of mind and picking up an old Time/Life series book on great places in the world. One of them was on the Alhambra. The Alhambra is this beautiful old palace in Granada, Spain that was built when Spain was part of Islam. The photos really inspired me. The designs on the walls, the architecture, the beautiful landscape... I knew I had to travel. I didn't know why. I just got turned on and hungered for discovering the world. This hunger took me out of my depression. The next year I was standing in the Alhambra.

I want to give people a reason. And some hunger.

And I draw people I kind of hunger for.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to sleep with them. I am in a stable, solid, monogamous relationship with my husband and I want to keep it that way. I have enough on my plate without adding stirred up ocean-floor emotions that come with getting physical with other people. I am not criticizing anyone who has an open relationship or is polyamorous, I am just not at this time in a state of mind to be able to go down that road. I am loving my structure and my boundaries now in my life and believe me, they are keeping me safe and healthy.

This drawing makes me love people.  How can someone be so damn beautiful?

This drawing makes me love people.  How can someone be so damn beautiful?

But I see these incredibly beautiful men on Facebook and Instagram and Tumbler and TV and wherever. I think to myself on a daily basis “God outdid himself with this guy...” There's a combination of emotion that arises in me as I am bombarded with beautiful man after beautiful man. “Why can't I look like this?” “That's so much work to get a body like that” “He would never love me.” “He's so out of my league” “I would have loved being able to see images like this when I was a teen, it's too bad I had to look at underwear ads in magazines” “I hope they are not on too many steroids” “Are they nice?” “What does narcissism really mean and are these guys that?” “How wonderful that I can see these incredible men!” “I should be going to the gym every single day for 3 hours each day... just for a while.” “Is botox good for you?” “How lucky this guy gets to wake up looking like that. His life must be so different from mine.” “I hope they are happy.”

 

I have only met a few of the guys that I have drawn.  There are a few I talk to quite a bit.  A few guys I draw over and over and we have become friends through art.  Most guys I have drawn have been really appreciative and thoughtful in their words. There are some very beautiful, kind men out there. They are the majority of the men I have drawn.

I try not to draw requests. I do my best when my “spidey sense” picks what I should draw next. And a lot of time it's not someone I would have planned to draw. It's the light hitting a face, or the contours of a body or just some image's energy. And I say to myself “that works”. If I try to draw someone how they want, I don't usually like the results. And if I am doing a request, I tighten up a bit, just trying to “get it right”.  I'm actually not very good at getting my artwork to look like the subject which is confusing to me because I put so much work into capturing the energy and beauty of my subjects and they often come out really beautiful, but not them... So I can't do portrait commissions.  It just won't work.  Those street artists who do caricatures actually do a better job of making their artwork look like the source than I do...  Only a couple times has someone sent me a photo and I said, “that's perfect” and it all worked out. I will draw people who ask as practice, but it is just as likely that I might not ever show the results of that work.

I don't want to be an artist for hire. I don't need the money at this time. I have other skills that I would much rather use to make me money. I am an ESL teacher and I love love love teaching. I've never had more fun at work than when I am teaching a room full of diverse people from all over the world how to use the Present Perfect tense... I had a whole career in fashion and I would even rather go back to that than to become an artist doing commissions.

You can't know where pursuing art or a skill will take you.  You can have fantasies and dreams, but you can't know the reality of a thing until you do it, and do it for long enough to see the results.

You can't know where pursuing art or a skill will take you.  You can have fantasies and dreams, but you can't know the reality of a thing until you do it, and do it for long enough to see the results.

So I am not sure I know exactly what I want from doing my artwork, but it's certainly a lot. I encourage anyone out there who has a nebulous, undefined desire to do something (healthy) to go out and do it without questioning it too much and see where it takes you. It may take you to where you want to be.

Every Day Every Day Every Day

Hi All,

This is just a really short post to note that although I have not been focused on any blog posts since May (!), I have been focused on creating artwork.  I try to do at least one drawing every single day and post it on my instagram and/or facebook account.  This has resulted in some improvement as an artist over the last 2 years...

I wanted to show you all what I could draw after about 6 months of daily practice at drawing:

Based on a photo of Charlotte Rampling...  More like her ragged older sister, but I still like her.

Based on a photo of Charlotte Rampling...  More like her ragged older sister, but I still like her.

After 9 months I was a little stronger in technique:

From a photo of Hedy Lamarr.  

From a photo of Hedy Lamarr.  

At this time I was focused on creating very colorful paintings and I didn't really focus much on teaching myself how to draw faces accurately.  

At a year, I was drawing like this:

Undersketch for a painting

Undersketch for a painting

This is an undersketch for an acrylic painting.  I feel like it was a leap for me.  I almost kept it a sketch because I really liked the feeling this conveyed.  It's so not perfect, but the feeling I get from looking at this guy is really sweet, and although the finished painting captures that, the drawing expresses it more.

After this, I started focusing on drawing more and more and painting a little less.  So now I draw every day and paint every week or two.  I am sure in the future this will shift again.

After 2 years and the focus switching to drawing, my sketches looked more like this:

Dusk

Dusk

I think they are becoming more evocative and full of movement and energy.  If I really like a sketch I will try to paint it.  In this case, this became one of my favorite paintings... so much so that I can't get myself to sell it!  The original drawing has sold to someone I really like, so I am happy it is in a good home!

Now, after about 2 1/2 years, I am sketching like this:

Contemplation

Contemplation

I am very concerned with movement, intensity, and shading.  Getting across feeling.  I did get across feeling 2 years ago.  And I am really still happy with the artwork I created then, but I feel that being an artist is being in process and not being sure where I am going.

Thank you to whoever is reading this for being part of that journey.

Thanks,
Saul

Remember - Celebrate

Hi Everyone,

The gallery show is up!  It's at the "A" Space of the New Hope Arts Center in New Hope, PA.  The show is a mix of images focused on the celebration of the gay experience, growing up, dealing with strife, finding heroes, having romances and getting older.

As you walk in the door you pretty much get faced with this image right away, blown up to 24" X 36".

 

"Kiss" is, at first glance, a bold image of two men kissing.  But there's also almost a hand pulling the man on the right closer into the man on the left.  Like they are somehow welded together by emotion...

In the same room is another image of a hand pulling you in:

 

This one is called "Lean In" and to me illustrates that sense of surrender and protection and acceptance we all seek.  And sometimes get.  And even better, give...

The show also incorporates other things I've been working on, including drawings.  Here's one of Hedy Lamar, who is one of my heroes.

 

I'm also painting at special times in the gallery.  It's a challenge to work around people, but I have created a few new works including this one:

 

If you are in the New Hope area, or can come for a day from New York or Philadelphia or anywhere nearby, get in touch!  New Hope and Lambertville have a lot to offer - great shops and restaurants, museums, historical sites, bike pathways... pretty much everything that makes a place a great place to visit.

On Saturday, May 20th, we're going to have a party.  It's a day filled with Pride Activities.  There's a parade, an art walk and a lot of eating and shopping and celebrating to do- and we are going to add to the celebration with food and drinks at the New Hope Arts Center.  Please come by!!!    Here are all the details on location, and you can email me at saullyonsart@gmail.com for more information: