The person we present to the world and the person we feel ourselves to be is often very different. The person inside longs to be made visible, to be seen, heard, and felt. The person inside squeezes into a small space in our hearts, cramped, perhaps squirming to get outside.
I’m fortunate to have pen and ink or paint to make the invisible known. It’s a great comfort, even if just for myself, to see what is going on in the world inside my heart.
I draw inspiration from many artists, but I have felt an enduring affinity for Ben Shahn ever since I encountered “November Twenty Six Nineteen Hundred Sixty Three” at the old Black Oak Books on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. It’s a poem By Wendell Berry, an ode to the death of John F. Kennedy. The drawings are by Ben Shahn. I was struck by how simple a book could capture the tone and feeling of nation grieving the death of a president, and in many ways, the hope of a nation’s future.
While I love classical realism, it is really the simplification of form in line drawing or figurative painting that, for me, gets to the root of the feeling. The most spiritual essence of the experience.