Friday, April 04, 2014

My Heart Rests on A Drawing Lesson

It finally felt a bit like spring yesterday. The temperature was near fifty and there was no wind, so it felt warm and hopeful. There is still quite a lot of snow and ice in our yard. It softens and melts a bit during the day, and then freezes hard during the night when temperatures fall below freezing. But there was a promise of spring yesterday, and I took some time to enjoy it.

I made a trip to Portland to run some errands and see the exhibit Fine Lines: American Drawings at the Portland Museum of Art. The exhibit features one hundred drawings from the collection of the Brooklyn Museum. In this era of color and multi-media creations, we don't often have the chance to look at drawings made simply of graphite or charcoal on paper. 

Brooklyn Museum: A Drawing Lesson
My favorite was A Drawing Lesson (1865) by Constantine Hertzberg. The museum provided magnifying glasses with which to look at the pieces, and I used one to examine and admire this beautiful piece. The subject is charming. The detail and technique is spectacular. The composition is perfect—notice how the large lush tree with all of its precisely-drawn leaves reaches around the top right of the scene and shelters the three people during their lesson; on the opposite corner, the stone walkway leads the viewer to the top of the ledge on which the women sit for their lesson; the focal point is the outstretched arm of the gentleman meeting the upward look of the woman, and this gesture guides the viewer to look at the bright background scene that the women are presumably drawing. The scene is genteel. The execution is dazzling. On a day when spring was in the air, this piece felt utterly delightful. 

On another day, I might have been entranced by something entirely different, perhaps something minimalist in execution or something abstract. The exhibition has tremendous variety. But on this day, my heart found a resting place with A Drawing Lesson. I think I might have to return to see what my heart enjoys on another day.

Christine Cote
April 4, 2014