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Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Right Line by John von Daler

                 My hand, as if in cahoots with my eyes, draws a soft, long, curved line that dips all of a sudden: waist, hip, buttocks, everything moves naturally into place. The woman lying on her right side facing me, naked, her head averted, starts to find her way onto my page.

                This picture is different. For once I feel like I've got it. I've been attending a drawing class all spring. Let me confess right away, I was no budding artist. In this last semester of thesis writing, final exams and urgent growing up, I had decided to take it easy by going to a #croquis class. Part of the bargain was the unveiling once a week of a real woman, absolutely naked. Not a bad course at a college where about 3000 young men lived almost entirely without female company.
                The women came in various sizes and shapes. Contrary to my expectations I did not leave the class with steamy memories, nor did I exchange sizzling glances with these young - and old - women who took the bus from New York to New Jersey to unveil for us what they had and we did not.
                Each week I stood at my easel trying to fill out that wonderful, soft vanilla paper with something like a vision, a statement, an honest rendition of the reality before me. Each week I ended up drawing a gnome in the bottom right-hand corner of the page, or an elephantiasis victim sliding unhappily off the page at the left.
                After all these weeks, tonight is different though. Something about the way I understand her position all at once makes the drawing easy. In the same way, when I play my violin I visualize all of Mendelssohn's violin concerto from the very first note: from here there is no way back. Women must have a feeling like this when they release the baby to which they have been trying to give birth: to see it born, on its way, making its own gently curved line into life, out of their control.
                I look at my drawing and back at the woman and suddenly the work is easy. A few strokes with the pencil and she is transported to my page. I pack up my things and leave, not allowing our teacher to comment on my work. My own satisfaction is enough.
                When you know that you never will be an artist, it's good to have drawn one picture that you like.

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