August 5, 2013

A Drawing of Girls Playing Rope in an Alley in Rome

I often find that my best drawings are not ones made with studious intent but by sudden impulse to record spontaneous events. These events usually happen while I am waiting for something - a bus or a doctor’s appointment. Or the drawings may seem to create themselves from playing with remnants of other works.

Such is the case with my recently completed drawing that I had started in Italy while waiting for a train. There were three young girls playing a rope game in an alley and I made notes of their relative positions and movements. They were featureless blobs on a page with thin notes about what was in the background. I was in a hurry and only had time to capture an essence. But I remember something being under construction by the detail on the right of a shovel. I remember the animated girl jumping in the center of the ropes that were strung around the ankles of the two girls on either side of her.

With careful work, I brought this scene back to life with the aid of charcoals and pastels - darkening the alley, adding features to faces, and patterns to dresses. Each girl took on a personality. The center one became joyful and spontaneous, the taller girl sisterly and commanding. The short squat girl embodied all that is the awkwardness of being between girlhood an womanhood. I was surprised that I had never worked this idea up into a painting. Perhaps I still may.

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