I'm a self-taught figurative artist. I love drawing from both professional models and people who just want their portrait done. I love pure line. I love shadow. I love pencil and charcoal and monochrome. I love the potential which lies between the lines and between a drawing and the viewer. It's that last where magic and meaning happen in any art.
Pure and powerful draftsmanship always moves me and influences span continents and centuries: from individuals such as Kathe Kollwitz and Otto Dix, to the great and largely anonymous 19th century First Nations carvers of the West Coast of Canada, to classical Renaissance and Baroque artists, to Rembrandt, to the American Abstract Expressionists Robert Motherwell and Franz Kline in the 20th century.
I learned to draw the human form by looking and drawing, and then drawing some more. Drawing for most of 35 years, with a few too-long breaks here and there. Constant drop-in life drawing, two, three, four sessions during the week, maybe a couple of times on a weekend.
I modelled for many years so I know first hand exactly what hurts and how damned much, and what's going to go numb first. Even sitting drawing in relative comfort I remember what the model is feeling in the pose and it helps my drawing: seeing is one thing, but you absolutely cannot begin to draw what you cannot feel.
Throughout these years, I was working full time. In the pre-computer '70s and '80s I worked in printing companies in Toronto and for geologists in Vancouver. While attending McGill in the early '90s and working on student publications I taught fellow students layout and design and typesetting on what by today's standards were rather primitive Macs.
And then I went to Rome. I found work teaching English and transcribing tapes for a translator. I drew at many drop-in drawing sessions and endlessly walked the city and went to art exhibitions that left me stunned. Instead of a handful of artistic highlights spanning an artist's career collected in one or two rooms, usual here in Canada, in Rome I wandered through room after room in huge palazzos, finding drawings and paintings numbering in the hundreds, along with those of the artist's influences and antecedents, schools and followers.
Just as with people, no one can possibly respond the same way to every work, and any work will leave someone cold. But when occasionally the magic happens, the dialogue begins. I've heard that once home and on the wall the images in my drawings refuse to sit still and they will not shut up. People find themselves talking back. At least, that's what some who have bought my work tell me.
In 35 years of drawing the human body thus far, if there was one pivotal moment in my drawing career, it was learning that the big toe goes up and the little toes go down, the thumb faces to the side, the fingers curve down. (Here I must give full credit to one of my fellow artists at the Basic Inquiry Studio in Vancouver sometime between 1988 and 1991 who pointed out that little factoid to me. It's so utterly simple, but I'd never noticed it before.) I'm obsessed with drawing hands and feet. And as you will notice, they get bigger and bigger as my familiarity with a particular model grows.
Paris, Ontario CANADA
22 February 2007