art therapy

Working from Home

If the men whose white t-shirts and long ponytails wrested with the autumn breeze glanced over from their perch overlooking the city, they got an eyeful. We hadn't noticed when we started, but the construction that spent months plaguing one busy street had now snuck around the corner, nestled behind the large victorian's newly erected wraparound porch. The neck of a cherry picker craned over the roof of the mansion, providing a spectacular view into the windows of a humble teal apartment house next door. She ended up throwing this away - it's entirely about the process

I noticed this when I turned for the next pose so the girls could draw my back and saw detailed faces of the two construction workers I'd walked by daily for the past few months. At the moment they focused intently on the roofing of the repurposed mansion, but I had no idea when they were going to turn, nor if the roof of my dormers afforded me any privacy. I counted calmly to sixty and back down again, then sank onto the coffee table I'd been standing on with my hands over my face, explaining what I could see through my middle and index fingers. The three ladies that had arrived with various baked goods and coffee to draw peeked out the window and the room filled with laughter as I defiantly settled into another two minute pose.

I'd been offering up my living room as a potential drawing space for a while now, but this was the first time it came to fruition. Three of my coworkers from Muse were aching to draw, so we got together before a session. I had expected to feel extremely comfortable, it being my own home, but even before we realized I was giving a show to the hard laborers of the City of Portland I felt a little strange. I was slightly unsure in poses, and tentative in navigating how much I should be chatting while posing.

I realized in evaluating the placement of coffee table and chairs beforehand how much thought goes into a space that lends itself to figure drawing. The strongest light source in my living room, determining my position directly in front of the window, was the sun pouring in. Within twenty minutes of me settling into a longer pose the dramatic raking glow across my arms had moved, leaving my form in shadow. The shaded lamps in the room lacked the strength for interesting lighting.

Stress sketches from the day my father broke his hip.

However, the session turned out to be a success anyway. One colleague summed it up with: "I needed to get that out." It's easy to forget, when modeling all the time, what it's like to have sixty seconds to capture the any of the many complexities of a human figure. Reminded of me how I loved life drawing when I was first learning to draw, I began to consider how much I benefit from every time I sit down to draw. I often pull out a sketchbook when I'm stressed or upset, ready to disappear into rushed sketches of fellow beer/coffee drinkers. The results, often decidedly mediocre, aren't overly important. There's a zen to the effort of taking down that much information in a limited period of time related to meditation. Amanda's comment reminded me how important drawing is to me, not as a means to any end besides some amount of inner calm.