In Figure Drawing, I can be seen one day of the semester barking and enumerating a few flimsy tenets about how to draw birthmarks, moles, freckles, and tattoos - how the tattoo is as respondent to light as the unmarked skin, how it pulls with its plat of skin, is not peripheral but embedded in the dermis, held truly 'inside' the skin and under hair, and so on.
These ideas promote a mindfulness of the subject, but don't make it any easier, really.
I had never drawn any of my own tattoos before. When I began this I wasn't sure I'd draw my alligator in, worried that the image would become only about him.
But I remembered, then, that when I draw other people's bodies, I always treat their tattoos as a supplement to the drawing-as-portrait. The tattoo cites intent, selfhood, claim, and the Forever. And something of what it is to live in your body.
This drawing is about the ache of loving, coming [apart], levitating and being 'dropped', rough touch, and even twinges of embarrassment — to live in your body.
Pastel, charcoal, watercolor on paper, fabric, pumice ground.
Drawing the gator educed the memory of long tattoo sittings. With my larger tattoos, there has each time been a notable flip in my body's understanding of the pain. For the first four hours, it is only pain. My rational mind knows what is happening and so it greets the needle pretty stolidly. But at the fifth hour and into the sixth, my heart wakes up. Feeling only the endlessness of the pain, my heart takes it for cruelty, and isn't angered, but sad. I hurt not physically, but feel hurt emotionally, from a mistaken certainty that my skin is being abused. Sort of interesting.
This is my biggest drawing yet.
Keep those hands in the cookie jar; smile like an alligator.