Life Drawing - Male

Nothing is as interesting to human beings as looking in a mirror, or looking at each other. Humans evolved on the African savannah and as a species became very good at some specific things.

We can hurl medium-sized rocks and sticks a medium distance. We can run and throw at the same time, better than any other animal.

We are excellent at recognising patterns, to the point of finding frequent, imaginative false-positives.

We can instantly see the mistakes or novelties in depictions of the human form.

A strange thing has happened while reading two different books at the same time. I was reading the hard-sci-fi novel about global warming, Fifty Degrees Below, by Kim Stanley Robinson, and I am still enjoying philosopher Daniel Dennett 's Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, and both of these books are mentioning Acheulean hand-axes.

I had never heard of these before, and they are a fascinating part of our prehistoric heritage, throughout the Old World continents, really, that I am quite upset this was never mentioned in school. I mean, they were in use for almost a solid million years! Some mysteries still elude us as to their use, but they were obviously important enough to be so abundant, and in my book, by age 12, should have been mentioned, studied and discussed.

One of my favourite characters that I have read in years, is Frank Vanderwal in K.S. Robinson's Fifty Degrees Below. He finds out about these hand axes from some target-frisbee-throwing freegans, and decides it is a nice neolithic way to get exercise.

After a nearly a million years of making and teaching about Acheulean hand-axes to generation after generation, might there be a propensity for making and caring for tools, and feeling satisfied when using them well that is reinforced neurologically? Do we have a receptor that releases a trickle of endorphins when tool use is successful? As an artist, I feel it seems likely. However, that is anecdotal, and not worth as much as evidence pursued, double-blind trials followed, and theories confirmed.

In the spirit of our forebears, those deadly upright artisans, this post contains images of life drawings I did last spring, where the model was holding a long pole throughout the poses.

Knowledge Pupates Part 3: how I left paganism for science

Part 3
(Read Part 2 here about my reasonable University days.)
Part 1 here about my pagan-ish High School days.)

Back in my coffee-slinging days, a co-worker of mine pointed out how some customers never change their style. You know the type; they are stuck in the seventies, tucked-in plaid shirt & jeans, kind of shoulder-length hair that's not long enough to be committed to being long hair. Or they are stuck in a sixties-hippie earth-mother look, lots of swinging beads and mismatched patterns on layered clothing. You observe them with a fashion-forward eye, and think, "if they just tweaked it, it could be very retro-cool". But fashion is passing them by, and they are content, or at least oblivious.

The painting at left is kind of like that for me. I hadn't finished developing a look, and maybe it was over before I began this painting. I was still elated by the final product of Symbiosis that I kept painting these figures in sap green and naples yellow. This painting resides inside an antique black box with wire wrapped around it through the lid to evoke threads and wrapping.

I have blogged briefly in the other two parts of Knowledge Pupates about how I began to find reason & science more appealing than superstition and old fairy tales. And my thoughts continue to develop. I don't want my learning to stop, I want to keep learning throughout my life, and right now, I hope I always feel that way. One can no longer contain the sum of all human knowledge in a lifetime; we have access to so much information, the mind reels. I wish I could live a thousand years, a million years just to keep learning, and to see how humanity develops, how I would develop. Instead, I am content with my lifetime and its abundant opportunities to develop myself.

My fashion continues to evolve, from hip-hop lite teen, to gothy university days, to a general darker aesthetic now. My art feels different now, still dark, but maybe a little less cluttered. And my beliefs have altered, and I have sought out different positions to sort out how I feel. 9/11 changed things for a lot of people. I can remember the confusion it caused. A few years later, I read Richard Dawkins essay, Time to Stand Up in A Devil's Chaplain and I was amazed at the strength of his statements. They cut right to the heart of the harm irrational religious thinking can do.

And religious thinking worries me. I plan to have kids, and there are children I care about in my family, and I want them to continue to be little questioning machines their whole lives, always asking "why? why?" after each statement. Religious thinking can carry on with the "why"'s for a bit, and then it comes down to trusting "God said so" or having faith that irrational ideas will work out in the end. In sci-fi authour Kim Stanley Robinson's excellent Green Mars of the Mars Trilogy there is a classroom scene where the kids play a game to have their science teacher keep regressing into finer and finer explanations by asking "why?" until the game comes to a triumphant end: the teacher stammers and replies "we don't know", to the childrens' delight. In this time and place in the universe, I can think of no greater purpose for humanity than to continue to ask questions.

I started this blog with the intention of showing my artwork, self-promoting, and generally giving myself a weekly challenge. I don't want to stop looking at the bagginess or fitted-ness of men's pants each season, and I don't want my art to play out the same couple of techniques and images over and over. I don't want to stop developing my opinions on the politics and religions of the world, because although themes re-occur, the situations are still developing.

I think I have painted enough creepy green people for now.