|Ox: Charcoal Study S. Myers, Charcoal on Paper|
He lay, a brilliant splash of red and white in the spring-green grass - the quiet owner of a gorgeous pair of horns. I’ve so wanted a picture of him for my art; but day after day as we drove past his field, I did not have my camera, or we didn’t have time, or he and his fellow steer were at the far end of their lot.
But the other day I did capture his portrait. He didn’t mind my proximity, or my fuss with the camera. When spoken to, he looked at me with gentle unconcern.
This first study was drawn while looking at the photograph and remembering the animal himself – his massive bulk, the extravagant span and curve of his horns.
|Ox from Memory, Study S. Myers, Charcoal on Paper|
The second sketch is an experiment. I hid the photo from sight, also my resulting study, and simply drew from memory, trying to recall the information I had gathered.
I really think this technique of working from mentally assembled information is similar to how the ancient Greeks created drawings for their pottery. There is both a certain simplification and a certain emphasis on memorable details in Greek pottery paintings that makes me think that though they gathered their primary information from life, painting on vases was not done directly from a live model. The forms had settled and brewed a little while in the consciousness, as a study and as a memory – of how a spine curves, of how a dog’s legs and head look from behind, of how fingers rest on a harp-string. Then the pot-painters created the red and black shapes that parade across the best of Greek ceramics – depictions of men, women, horses, lions... and, very occasionally, a handsome ox...