Before a single cup of tea, before I took care of the dogs and the chickens, I carved out time to finish my drawing homework. Otherwise, I knew it would not happen.
I sat in front of the mirror with a sharpie pen and traced the outline of my body. I anchored my pose by placing my left elbow on my left knee, exactly the way the teacher had demonstrated, and covered my left (non-dominant) eye with my left hand. I was not supposed to lift my pen from the mirror (but I did, a few times). When I came to an area that was darker, I filled that in more with sharpie scribbles, and left open the places where there was more light. With the pen, I followed the folds of my worn and dirty bathrobe. My hair hung down in messy tangles.
When I was finished with the sketch, which took about 15 minutes, I transferred it onto a piece of tracing paper, and put it away. Now: tea, chickens, dogs, children to school, me to class.
We start each drawing class by hanging our homework on the board in the front of the classroom, and then we look at and comment on each others' work. I nearly laughed today, and I wish that I could have taken a picture of my self-portrait next to my classmates' in order to show exactly what I'm talking about.
The first thing I noticed was that I had simply done the homework wrong. I was supposed to draw an outline of myself, and not do any value drawing, or shading in the parts of myself that were darker. My classmates all had these nice outlines of themselves, like a coloring book page of open, simple lines.
Nice comments all around, it is that kind of drawing class, with some clear direction and instruction from a skillful teacher.
When it came to my drawing, which people liked, these were some of the comments:
"It looks so intense, like there is so much anger."
"It's like you're about to jump out of the page."
"There's something there, like despair?"
"Something like, don't look at me, don't talk to me, I just want to hide."
"You're trying to push something away, like no, not one more thing."
And I nearly, nearly laughed. Yes, I see it. And then I nearly, nearly cried.
The image is from before the day even started.
No one in my class knows about Nathaniel.