The Drawing Nature: Science and Culture: Natural History Illustration 101 course out of Newcastle University under the edX online courses group finished after 6 weeks and left me with the excellent little raft of skills I mentioned before. To be effective we need to keep drawing and adding to these skills. One of this course managed to leap in the three year degree at Newcastle which I am envious of. I couldn’t survive the regime of travel and work right now my health is shocking and it is often too far between the kitchen and bathroom.
The group has stayed together to some degree in a Facebook group although the chat there has gone quiet the last few days. It was mad for a while as we all discovered the art stores and bits of gear we had never realized we needed but lack of them had definitely cramped any attempts we made at finished drawings. Most of the others have gone on to color or an owl challenge but I have pulled back to this image of Mirel Cordoba which is defeating me about as soundly as an image can and making me get that old belly boiling state of “how can I call myself an artist and be so bad” happening again
It may be I have jumped away from the group too soon and should stay with their owl challenge. It is a good way to get the best feedback and some progression that isnt just myself guessing but there is a feeling of anxiousness. Everything I do at this stage of my life feels like racing against the clock. The actual impending nature of that death may have ended for now but the preciousness of time and the feeling that every non-productive breath is a crime remains.
Mirel is a part of my comment on poverty, property management and the people who are trapped by it. maybe it is a comment on the unfairness of being elderly when people dismiss you as a worthwhile human. He was Ecuadorean and he lived two apartments down after being forced out his home. He lost years of technical data and equipment. He had been a capable radio technician. I think the apartment here and the things he gathered around him to try and save what was precious may have killed him. Mold and old things in a tiny room. Load that on top of the physical stress of moving home for a very old man. Then add the loss of all the things that were familiar to him and Mirel was broken. He was a gracious person who smiled a sad smile and spoke very little. This is a frightening place for a man who is so helpless. This place is government housing and there may be people here or people passing who are always on the look out for some way to make a buck. I think he was safe enough. The immensely valuable and hard to get radio equipment he hid in there was beyond most people to recognize or understand. By the time people get here most of them have been so hurt they just want to be at peace and will not hurt anyone else. But Mirel didn’t get to be here long enough to realize any of that. I wrote his story quite a distance back when he passed on and all that was left was a pile of paper and old shoes at the front gate
The drawing has beaten me twice. It may be the size (A3) requires disciplines and tools I am not familiar with yet. It may be this apartment is too small to work images on paper of any size. It is true a constant cascade of pencils and rubbers and things crash to the floor all the time while I am drawing. There isn’t any way to avoid it in this tiny space
There are several other drawings including a painting based on cave art and harking back to the “Purple Patch” painting that was overworked a year or two ago. The new one will also be a comment on elderly and their little dogs which is a major part of the population hereabouts. I also plan to draw the clematis vine out the front. It was sourced from a Tasmanian nursery that specializes in them and if I can lift the quality of finished work here they can have a copy of this cultivar’s drawing
We move from neurologists through psychiatrists to forensic psychiatrists and now on to psychologists in my search for a proper diagnosis of what has been and what is. It has taken years to get through this and as it has moved along I have fought intense battles with amnesia and confusion. Used thousands of hours of computer games and mind exercises to try and get coherence back. Now the thing seems to be testing me for what is while acknowledging I am making claims but ignoring the depth and extent of the battles to get here or of the desperation it leaves me struggling with.
Today, in order to get the drawings done the phones were turned off but I see a number of messages on the machine so the psychologists may have contacted me. The weather has been cool and apart from the way it makes the apartment dreary it is beautiful.
I answered the phone. It wasn’t the psychologist. My brave little friend has just arrived home after getting part of her foot amputated and she was frightened. Her happiness means a lot to me but I think she will be alright