Quantum Cubist Self-Portrait, graphite, 12×9″
Woke up at 5 for reasons unknown and watched a grainy black and white youtube video of the 1952 Yankees/Brooklyn Dodgers World Series. Jackie Robinson played second base for the Dodgers and Roy Campanella played catcher. Young Mickey Mantle led the Yankees to victory. The batters swatted at pitches with wide, flat swings. Baggy uniforms billowed and made the athletes seem slow of foot and wide of ass.
Drifted off, woke to my alarm at 7:30 feeling much groggier than I had at 5. Stumbled through making breakfast, cooking lunch to leave behind for Judy, and packing an apple and a sandwich to take along. Felt rushed and slightly hassled as I drove to work but arrived five minutes before the doors automatically unlocked at Valencia Building 3.
The classroom was only partially wrecked from the last class and the Friday clean up crew, so it took just ten minutes to move easels and chairs into position. Set out three models of human skulls on upright wooden boxes for my Drawing I class. Arranged a complex still life (a skeleton, fabric, bricks, boots, cow femurs, an angel statue, and a lamp shaped like a horse’s head) on the gray stage for my Drawing II students.
2/3 of the students showed up on time. Did a brief intro for Drawing I and then switched to Drawing II. I showed them Picasso’s early cubist paintings, had the students draw 9×12″ boxes and divide them into 8 sections using curving lines. Told them to draw chunks of the still life in each area. The kicker was this: each time they drew another section they had to move to another position. Cubism=multiple viewpoints rammed together into one shifting, churning space.
Cubist Still Life, graphite, 8×6″
Drawing I drew skulls and learned portrait proportions. Then they drew me and themselves, and after lunch they paired up and drew each other. Usual mistakes: eyes drawn too large, faces elongated, heads turned into bowling balls with facial features attached haphazardly, noses shortened and shrunk to Michael Jackson proportions, necks too spindly to hold up a head, mouths too small and narrow to chew a hamburger, brains shrunk to subhuman proportions, facial proportions of the drawer transplanted onto drawings of other people. Students struggled for a while, but improved. A poor student surprised me by drawing an accurate portrait of another student after having butchered my face.
Gave my usual speech about proper etiquette when a model is present (our first model comes next week). Told them not to make remarks or jokes about the model, not to touch the model, not to fraternize (the model is not a future date), not to photograph the model, and in short, to treat the model with respect. These rules are based on bad behavior by previous students. I concluded: “If you have an issue following these rules, then I will have an issue with you, and then I will issue you out the door.”
Two students stayed after. One wanted to show me her latest work in computer graphics. I gave her a few color theory tips. The other wanted to convert me into becoming a computer artist. Told him that I like the tactile experience of working with my hands, of making things out of physical materials.
He persisted, so I trotted out my standard and most effective argument. I asked him, “Would you rather make love to a woman or look at porn?” He stammered and said, “I’ll have to think about that.” Discussion ended.
Put away wooden boxes, still life props and skulls; arranged easels in a circle around the room; erased the blackboard, locked the closet, turned off the spotlights. The weekend cleaning crew came in while I packed my bag, and I told them that the paper towels were out in both dispensers.
Trudged through the building and met two students in the lobby. We cringed greetings to each other sharing the hope that neither student or professor would feel obliged to start a conversation.
The day had turned hot and muggy while I worked inside, and the walk to the car seemed long. My teaching adrenaline faded away, and the effects of walking on concrete floors became apparent: my knees felt numb and my feet hurt.