In my first year of classes in drawing, I showed particularly little talent. It's not that I didn't try, I simply didn't know what I cared to show, or what I found important about lines and paper. I had photography, and it had me–but drawing was a strange fellow that I simply could not figure out. Maybe I was too busy watching my instructor and the way he rolled his fingers through his fizzy, curled mop–as though he would find something treasured or once lost. Maybe it was the intimidation factor of the old-boys club that dominated the scene. Maybe I just wasn't any good.
Marc Perlman was diminutive in stature, but, had a strength of certainty in making marks. My second year I enrolled in his Life Drawing classes, and met his gaze every Tuesday and Thursday for four hours. He could wither, and exalt, with his critiques, and he was kindly in sharing techniques and wanting us to want it, and wanting for us to want to be tough. This spoke to me. This encouraged me somehow.
You must stand with your table out in front of you, an arms length away. You must use your entire body, and all your abilities and scurrying thoughts, and hell, yes, if you want to use your leftover coffee as ink, then do so by all means and throw some spit on there too. You have 45 minutes.
Learning how to infuse a line with different sensibilities, different thoughts, and different feeling suited me. I liked that it was direct, and messy, and exposed unlike my time spent in darkrooms and behind the lens. I liked that I could make these lines that eluded me for so long. I like looking at the forms, and building them up from bone. I liked wrapping them in the flesh of the being there before me, and I liked the abstractions I could see in them.
Marc was confounded by my photography major, "you draw figures with abstraction, and you're a photo major? But, photography is so scientific and exacting?!" I never saw it that way, and found his 'compliment' jaded and ripe with the possibility to prove him wrong. Looking back, it's entirely possible this was the reason he said it.
I would leave class covered in ink, charcoal dust and pencil. Washing off in the bathroom with my classmates afterward was a quiet reverie of all we'd seen and done. Awaiting the next time, and the next chance to push with my whole body, and that whole piece of BFK propped up with masking tape and my Earl Grey tea with cream the perfect shade of skin and light.