(another from Lessons of the Life Class)
The centre line is not a line of stress,
would come to be his mantra in the months ahead,
but way back then it had an after-thought:
unless your subject is a pile of sand.
First time I heard it, it was growled at me.
I thought I'd drawn the loveliest of arabesques,
not centre line nor yet a line of force -
a worthy rival to Matisse's curves.
Think: line of least resistance, lad, a river's course;
or be a surgeon, mark her for the cut!
There, there and there! The loaded camel hair
delivered cobalt blue as though a dam had burst.
She's lumps of living jelly, lad, a mass
of underlying forms. What holds her up?
Two armatures... steel girders... call them what you will.
One from the shoulder, crosswise through her cleft,
then down (as tangent to the large globe of
her abdomen) to this audacious hip - a hook
from which the world might hang. The other line
of stress is perpendicular - it thrusts
its way through that fine leg to her enormous toe.
And all the while he almost danced to splash
his cobalt blue, and all the while as well
there came a screech like chalk across a greasy board.
Ill-famed graffitist of our student daubs...
But not that day. That day he'd demonstrate,
directly on the model's skin, exactly where
the scalpel should go in. Surprised she screeched?
My big surprise was that she held the pose!
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