I just finished rearranging my studio so my model would have some space to move around in. I like to draw her in motion in order to capture something about her body language. She is so expressive and deceptively elegant like moving water flowing back and forth in a large aquarium. You’d never know from just looking at her but underneath her M.C. Escher T-shirt, cut off shorts and heavily written on Converse shoes, she has a figure straight out of a Renaissance painting. She’s not real thin like your modern ideal of beauty but she’s not heavy either, just curvy enough to have that classical beauty. Her face is soft and round with high cheekbones that give a graceful curve to her cheek but not harsh, like most people with as strong a features as her. There’s a little line above her chin, which she’s self conscious of, but I think is cute. She has green, almond-shaped eyes and auburn hair that gets more orange in the summertime.
She was a bit of a tomboy growing up and she once told me she’d cry when anyone called her a girl and stomp her little cowboy boot. She was a country girl but you’d never know it. Accept for every now and then, a word will slip out when she’s tired or been drinking. She’s self-educated and loves to read. You can talk to her about nearly any topic. I love to hear what she has to say about my work, she doesn’t use the typical artist lingo and usually has a fresh perspective. She even draws a little here and there, usually pen and ink sketches that start as a doodle and end in something really incredible. I once saw her turn a grocery list into a mythological beast. And once, she did a portrait of me with my hair flowing like snakes. Her drawings are whimsical and fun, but she never believes they are any good. Or at least, she doesn’t show it, if she does.
She’s very laid back and she’s the best person to do just “nothing” with, like Christopher Robin said “nothing” is when grown ups ask you what your going to do and then you go out and do it. She has a child like playfulness and our conversations go on and on. I first met her in a photography class. The original teacher left mid course and the painting instructor took over the class and combined them into one. The first time I saw her she was reading a book all alone, ignoring everything around her, lost in her own world, her wire-rimmed glasses perched lightly on her face. She wore a bebop hat backwards that looked like a beret. One day she wore this incredible white dress that showed off her figure. It was so out of character for her but she wore it really well. I asked her to model for me and she agreed. I’ve asked her on several occasions to wear that dress again but she lost it, I guess it was just a moment in time.
I head downstairs and let Frank know to look out for her.
“Hey Frank, Shelly’s coming by just let her know I left the studio open.”
“Sure, where you going?”
“Running to the corner store to grab a few things.”
I need some smokes and some white chalk and I pick up Shelly her favorite snacks, chocolate milk and some Sun chips. I’m gone about 20 minutes and when I get back she is sitting at the bar laughing with Frank. She has half a beer in front of her and is smoking a menthol cigarette.
“So we’re having a difference of opinion here. She says she likes your realistic work, but I said its trash.”
“You’re my best critics Frank.”
“Well I like those broken up ones you, like that drawing of ole boy, the other day.”
“Oh yeah which one was that?”
“You know the one, you used those colored chalks, that I always have to wipe down after you leave.”
“Sorry about that.”
“He’s such a mess you should see his studio, there’s usually only one little strip I can walk through.”
“Hey, I clean that up just for you.”
“Anyway, it looked like you drew him from all over the room all at once. I’d hang that one up”
“If you like it that much I’ll give it to you.”
“Aww, you know I can’t take no charity, I’ll wipe out your tab for it.”
“Thanks Frank, I had no idea you liked my work that much.”
“Hey now, I got a little culture in me.”
Shelly and I head upstairs to work.
She’s wearing a purple floral dress with black tights, a burgundy sweater and clogs that “clack” on the stairs as we go up.