Oddments

In search of story


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June 15.20: Coping

Upside-down-ness

above below

gives me doubts

and vertigo.

I fear my eye

misapprehends

if sameness is

my constant lens.

I can sometimes

see anew

when things are toppled

all askew.

From eye to brain

zig-zaggety:

what I think I know

from what I think I see.

 

 

Many years ago, while I was caregiver to Dad, I audited Beginning Drawing at a nearby university. I couldn’t finish it because Dad grew so much worse, but even in that partial semester I learned immeasurably more than I can tell you, dear reader. One assignment was to draw something upside-down. Life was upside-down anyway, so why not? It was for me an astonishing process. It is one thing to draw something as you see it; it is another thing entirely to draw something as you don’t see it. When I was forced to turn an image upside-down and draw it, I was also forced to think differently. It was surprisingly uncomfortable.

 

 


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Vagaries in Gestation: On Being Linear, Part ll, 3.13.17

tube rose [gray]©Maureen O’Hern

A drawing takes a lot of time

a million hours or more

it cramps your upper body

and makes your eyeballs sore.

But anything rendered in graphite

is deemed too quickly done

a couple strokes of pencil

meritless, homespun.

Indignant, I object.

Vociferous, I kvetch.

It may be done in graphite,

but don’t call it a sketch!

Please do not copy my drawings.

Vagaries in Gestation


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Vagaries in Gestation: On Being Linear, Part l, 3.12.17

Tuberose © Maureen O’Hern

Did you ever hear words that stopped your breath? I did: our instructor told us that we had to draw without lines. I was a simple English major, with my toe tentatively dipped in the waters of botanical illustration, and I was frozen in that position, rethinking my commitment. Was she serious?

She went on: “There are no lines in Nature.” That helped me not at all. But I left my toe in. What ensued was slavish hunching over a drawing table with neurotically-controlled lighting, racing a life cycle, capturing it with graphite before it drooped and its shadows changed.

Yes, shadows. Not lines. I had to work with magnifying lenses clipped to my glasses, so demanding was the technique. What was perceived in my drawing as a line was in reality an obsessively nuanced shadow, pristine in its effect, subtle in its application. Deadly to my neck.

Thus did I become enamored of buds. I had, of course, marveled at buds as a gardener, but that was not the same as falling into them as a botanical artist. Their myriad tiny hills and vales had gone unnoticed by me  — how could I never have perceived that there was not the vestige of a line in those tiny becomings?

Becoming. The meaning of the bud.  That moment when something changes in us, when, for instance, someone tells us there are no lines.

Did I know that living — becoming — was not a simple matter of black and white, of sharp, clear line? Of course I did, but that was mere knowledge. Knowledge isn’t the same as wonder. One can follow a line to knowledge, but wonder awaits in shadows.

 

 

 

Please do not copy my drawings or use them in any way.

Vagaries in Gestation