March 15, 2013

The Man With the Red Shoes Reminds Us of Oblamov

Alternating between fast pastel and slow pencil drawings, I’m satisfying both the need for meditative details and expressive spontaneity. The pastel drawing above is one of my quick studies from yesteryear quickly finished recently. Although the study was black and white I had made color notes for some future date when I would either add colors to the drawing or make a painting from the sketch. I had made a small oil on wood painting some time ago and finally returned to the sketch to add the colors.

Even without the notes, I somehow think I would have remembered the red shoes that the model was wearing. They were so odd and so vivid. But it was worth the wait to finish this drawing because I brought some new understanding to this piece based on my readings in Russian Literature. I had finished reading Goncharaov’s novel Oblamov, a tale of a soul lost to lethargy. The descriptions of Oblamov’s chronic lounging, his puffiness and pasty skin, were still fresh in my imagination when I added touches of earth red and blue to the face of the reclining figure. His foreshortened body added to the impression of a diminished body and an overly active imagination.   Even the piece of paper that the model holds is reminiscent of the letters that Oblamov would start to write and never finish.

My husband saw this sketch when I tucked it into the transparent layers in my portfolio. “This person reminds me of a character in a Russian novel,” he said, “Oblamov.”

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