March 9, 2016

Cat Got Your Tongue

Almost four years ago, I had an idea about making large drawings graphically depicting commonly used idioms about bodily sensations.  I thought to start with the phrase, “the cat’s got your tongue.”    Such idioms as “it makes my skin crawl” and “I get all choked up” carry special associations as well.  What would it look like on paper to have these strange expressions made corporeal?
I finally got started on this project.  I suppose that part of my hesitation was because as an artist for hire, I do need to bear in mind that my work should have some potential commercial viability.  What clients would like to have a large expressionistic drawing of a cat biting someone’s tongue hanging on their wall?  Not many I think.  But when I get a notion about an art work that I would like to create, I never really feel settled until I eventually bring it in to being, anyone else wishing to actually acquire it notwithstanding.
For “The Cat’s Got Your Tongue” I rummaged up an unfinished drawing from my graduate school days that I could recycle.  Most people throw such things away but I keep them if the paper they were rendered on was expensive.   Saves me the expense and trouble of ordering more paper for something experimental.  The other plus to using recycled drawings, especially pastel or charcoal, is that this under drawing can be smudged and erased in a way to create an interesting texture from which to work. 
The drawing I selected was of a model seated on a bench next to a plant.  My short little attention span had not allowed me to finish it at the time.  The first thing I changed was the orientation.  I turned the drawing from portrait style to landscape, as it was better that way for two entities to occupy that space: cat and person.  After that I judiciously smudged and erased the drawing, leaving an all over texture that reminded me of textiles, wires, or grass spikes. 
Over this I blocked out two forms; a person with a long tongue and the cat biting it.  But wait!  This did not fit my vision.  Why?  The problem was too much space at the lower half of the composition.  It made the tongue too high on the picture plane and it needed to be center or slightly lower than center and it was the focus of interest. So I could erase everything and draw it over again.  Or just crop the picture down.  I chose the latter.

The cat biting a person’s tongue was now settled in to the right space.  The joy of fleshing them out, adding tonality and details made the drawing come to life.  Bodily Idiom Drawing number one, “The Cat’s Got Your Tongue” was complete.  Satisfied with the results, I ordered 100 oversize plastic drawing sleeves and an archival box.  This will house the rest to come.

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