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Sunday, 29 March 2009

Lines of Stress

(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!


Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

As always, Dave, so very eloquent.
Have an amazing day and......

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Unknown said...

nobody, but nobody, writes like you do Dave-you are a delight xx

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

Fascinating recollection of an experience past. I think drawing on a model might get one fired these days.

Unknown said...

Interesting piece-- like the way you handle the pentameter-- the lines follow the underlying grid but more importantly interact with it by keeping their own motion. Nicely done.

Barry said...

That was a joy to read, Dave.

But I wish I'd been there to see it!

Aniket Thakkar said...

A great piece to read, as always Dave.
Keep inspiring. :)

The Grandpa said...

This is wonderful Dave. I love experiencing art this way, and it made me think of Yeats's How can we know the dancer from the dance?

I also flashed on Samual Scudder's Take This Fish and Look at It. Nicely done.

Karen said...

Dave - Your poetry always opens a world I do not know, yet makes it accessible. Once a teacher, always a teacher...

Great ending; didn't see that coming!

Tabor said...

I like the mix of the images cobalt blue and hads thoughts of actual cobalt mineral being carried by the camel that provided the hair!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Dave - loved this - I was an art school model for a short time and it rings very true!!

Rosaria Williams said...

David, a tad too long, circuitous. But, the last part,..surprised that she held her pose..was a stunner.

Anonymous said...

This is how it's done then! This is how to write.
Love the humour contained amongst the seriousness in your words, you.

Susan Sonnen said...

love that last line!

Rachel Green said...

Oh! Excellent piece. Loved the denoument

Just Jules said...

ah yes, I could see it...

Roxana said...

irresistible! funny and so well-written.

Michelle said...

Oh very nice!

I was with you the whole way I thought and then you surprised me :)

Jeanne Estridge said...

An interesting experience nicely captured!

ArtistUnplugged said...

Well, I just love these lines!!!

Maggie May said...

Wonderful voice and play, surprise ending! I like the ending.

Poetic Artist said...

Amazing, If in life, we all held our pose,and had faith. We all would live a more peaceful life.

Sheila said...

I've been working on a full length almost nude - she's earing a thong and a pair of hot pink wellies - portrait for ages. I always start with a complete cobalt underpainting but it would be a lot easier if I could just paint a blue grid on the model. I like the "large globe of her abdomen" but I don't think my sitter would appreciate it. She might like the "audacious hip" though.

Kim VanDerHoek said...

Lovely poem!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such a nice comment.

Dave King said...

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff
And you always so generous with your comments. Thank you.

I'll tkae that as a compliment then... Cheers!

Yes, I'm sure that would follow like night after day. I can't imagine it happening today somehow.

Many thanks for that observation. Much appreciated.

I know what you mean - so much that happened back then seems like another world now.

I will do my humble best. Thanks.

The Grandpa
Very many thanks for that. I had not thought of the Yeats quotation- very apt - and will ahve to look up Scudder. I do not know it at all. You have extended my knowledge - or will have.

Well, I had to keep the ending back, now didn't I? Thanks for the observations.

Dave King said...

I love your surreal spin. Fabulous! Thanks.

Weaver of Grass
Don't tell me you got daubed!

Comment much appreciated. Thanks.

Welcome to you and much thanks for the comment.. not sure about it being how it's done, though!

Susan Sonnen
Thanks for that.

Much appreciated comment. Thanks.

It's Just Me
Welcome and much thanks.

Thanks for the feedback

Very gratifying comment. Thanks.

It is still quite vivid - in parts.

Artist Unplugged
Thanks for that.

Much appreciated comment. Thanks.

Poetic Artist
So true - just so long as we were allowed to screech, I suppose!

I don't think our model appreciated the large globe of her abdomen, either - though by then she was more concerned about the cobalt blue trickling down it.

Welcome and thanks for stopping by to comment.

Unknown said...

Hi Dave,

This is my third visit to read and re-read your piece. I need the time to take in all you say, which rarely comes to me in one! I always enjoy your humour!

Dave King said...

I am flattered that anyone should think it worth 2 or 3 reads. Thanks for the feedback.

A Cuban In London said...

Oh, my! Playful, naughty Dave! Why did I imagine that the life model was... actually... erm... alive? Brilliant. I wish I was still doing the monthly arts session I used to organise until last year in a part of London that the time and the government have forsaken. I used to get mainly performers who would delight the audience with their witty poems and beautiful songs. Of all the events I coordinated and oversaw for my previous job, this was the most fulfilling. Many thanks for yet another brilliant poem.

Greetings from London.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Amazing and gripping! Very well done, Dave!!! The ending is perfect.

Unknown said...

I love the line "a hook from which the world might hang."

The surprise for both the model & the reader was a lively ending. Great work!

Madame DeFarge said...

Like Jenn, I adored the description of the hip, made it instantly visible in my mind's eye.


Tess Kincaid said...

Loved the surprise at the end, Dave.

LR Photography said...

Very good Dave, congratulations!

Sarah Laurence said...

I loved that last stanza! You are a poet with an artist’s eye.

I had a life drawing teacher in high school who used to draw on my drawings. It drove me crazy, but he really taught me to draw. He was not above drawing on models either and so picky about them resuming the pose exactly. He was a wonderful teacher.

You make me want to pop back into the open life drawing studio on campus again.

Jim Murdoch said...

Carrie and I regularly watch a programme on Artsworld where the teacher demonstrates how to paint in the style of a particular great artist and I have to say the two of us both grue every time he makes to set right what the student is doing. It's hard not to do it for them but for God's sake don't dawb all over their work.

Nice poem, Dave. Great punch line.

Stephen Dell'Aria said...

Please stop by my blog, I gave you an award. Jeez!!!...35 responses!!!..Haha...I hope you trail down to the bottom of the list here and read this.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I have been catching up on all your beautiful postings. Such a delight to visit you!

Dave King said...

A Cuban in London
Oooer, it's a long time since I';ve been called naughty. Gives I goose pimples, it do.
Your monthly art sessions seem to have been just the job, though. Wiosh I could have been there.

Thank you very much for that comment.

Thanks a lot for that feedback.

Madam DeFarge
Welcome. Always good to hear what others think.

Thanks for commenting. Alway appreciated.

Thanks for that. All comments are helpful.

Always difficult to know how far to go improving a studen's work. My own view is that mostly you shouldn't. I've seen creative writing attempts dosed with red ink. Counter productive, nearly always. At the most you should be selective and decide what you want to tackle next. Then best to let the student do it!

I have just begun to watch the same series, it seems. Mastering the Art? Actually, I've only seen one so far. Attempting to paint a la Monet. I started a post on it, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day.

Sorry I haven't done so yet. Will do and for now m any thanks - though I should say that some time ago I made a policy decision not to accept any more awards. (I also decided to remove the existing ones, but have not got around to that yet!) If I stick with my decision after seeing your blog, please do not think it personal in any way. I very much appreciate the gesture and thank you for it.

Pamela, Terry and Edward
And such a delight to have you visit. Thanks for commenting.

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