Monday, October 29, 2018

The Rhino


Why do I like to draw the rhinoceros? My figures, animals or humans, have a chubby, cuddly quality.  Even my old people look like children. If I were to draw puppies and kittens they would be sickenly sweet.  I look animals with some grit, that don’t look cute.

That led me to the Rhino. I had been thinking about rhinos for years since I found this  picture in the Daily News.




 Four rhinos walking down a road, just ambling along--four dudes out for a walk.  Isn’t the rhino a solitary creature? Not according to these guys. I don’t know where they were or what they were up to. They look so companionable. They look like the bandidos in The Wild Bunch or George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice strolling down a road in Texas, but nice.

You can see by how yellow it is that I've saved it for a long time.  I  wanted to do something with rhinos but I knew my draughtsmanship wasn’t up to the task. So I practiced,

I think of the Rhino as a plodding heavy grumpy beast but I saw one trotting around in a large enclosure at the Bronx Zoo, surprisingly light-footed and graceful.   Then I read the obituary of Anna Merz, Rhino Guardian and Champion, who built a Rhino Sanctuary in Africa.  Rhinos —far from being the stupid, aggressive, ill-tempered sorts many suppose — were, in her words, beautiful and elegant. She blamed their bellicosity on their poor eyesight, leading them to charge first and ask questions later. She found that rhinos have a sense of humor and that they communicate by altering their breathing rhythms. She read them Shakespeare to soothe them.

Then I met the bronze rhino on the Plaza of Musee D’Orsay, and had a moment of perfect happiness.



The elements of that moment were;
  1.  I was in Paris, with Arthur.
  2.  It was a chilly day but the sun was warm on my face.
  3.  In a few minutes we would meet friends and go out for a nice lunch.
  4. I’d like to add my children, but they were teen-agers and the best I could say   was they were safe at home under someone else’s supervision.
  5. Maybe most important, I had an idea for a new series of drawings percolating in my brain.
I went home and drew that rhino from all directions, in different settings, sometimes walking in Paris with Degas’s little ballerina.



You can see more rhinos in my Rhino Gallery.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Little Furniture

When I complained to a friend at work about having to plan dinner yet again she told me the tale of the little table. It seems all you had to do was clap your hands and say “Come, Little Table, come!” and a table would trot in, beautifully set with a delicious meal. When you’d eaten your fill you just clapped your hands and said, “Go, Little Table, go!” and it would trot off to wash the dishes. “So,” I said, “where do I get one of those little tables?”  The closest I could come was to make a drawing.

Then when Jessie was about three she asked me as we were walking in New York City, “Why don’t homeless people just get jobs?”

I took a deep breath and said; “Well... what do you need in order to get a job? First you have to go on a job interview.  You should be rested so you need a bed. You have to be clean so you need a bathtub. You should be well-fed so you need a stove and a table. We came to the conclusion that to have a home you need a job-but to get a job you need a home.


This series of drawings is a meditation on home. As I drew I thought of more things a home needs--a chair to sit and think, a fireplace to keep cozy, extra chairs for when friends come over.  What does a home provide us and what does our home need from us?  What does it take to have a life?


Another Artist I love: Wayne Thiebaud

This is a good time to Celebrate Wayne Thiebaud, American painter, born in 1920; that makes him one hundred years old; at least he will be o...