Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Home and Thinking about Clever Cartoons and How To Draw Horses

I'm settling happily back in, chez nous, but I'm holding off a bit on blogpost-writing because of both my current familiarity with the wee hours (thank you, jet lag!) and a determination to keep "the list" manageable (currently: pedicure; gym workout; dentist appointment; get haircut; make sourdough loaves; catch up course assignments; finish sorting two months' mail, pay outstanding bills, and file paperwork; get some groceries honouring new nutrition resolutions; evict many communities of aphids; lie on the couch reading while enjoying breeze and fountain sounds -- not necessarily in that order)

But I want to keep you visiting here and I'd like you to feel that's worthwhile. . . So I'm offering you this page from my wee sketchbook, as sketched standing at the top of a hill on the Roger Lapébie cycling trail within a kilometre of our goal, the Wednesday market at Créon (watercolours added back at our Bordeaux "home"). My bike lies on the grass next to my feet -- it wouldn't stay upright on its kickstand on the uneven shoulder, and I lost patience.


  They're the same horses I tried sketching our first trip to Créon, here, and again on our second outing, they moved too much, not very co-operative models.  Even if they'd stayed still, let's be honest, I doubt I'd have captured a likeness. A memory, at least, though. . . . .

I'd by more shy about sharing these images with you (she's sketched those horses again? And they still don't look like horses!) except that the other day, checking my Twitter feed, I spotted a Tweet by illustrator Marilyn Naron which linked to this New Yorker article (by Emma Hunsinger) about drawing horses. . ..

And it's about drawing horses, yes, but it's about so much more, and it's sweet and brilliant and poignant and funny, and you can come back and thank me when you've read it. Or not, but I hope you enjoy it. I loved it completely. . .

You might know from Instagram that I also loved the Sempe exhibition we saw in Bordeaux last week (so weird to say that, the weirdest part of travel, the way it disrupts all the normal expectations of space and time, and then the rift begins healing, closing, as we settle back into our own places, places where one isn't in Bordeaux last week). Anyway, as much as I loved that exhibition, was impressed by Sempe's gentle, wise, insightful, modest humour and delightful illustration, I couldn't help but wince at the cartoons which seemed to accept the casual sexism of his time. Cartoons that replicated rather than challenged the easy mockery of women and our supposedly silly concerns, propensity for gossip, shallow avidity for clothes or shoes. . . .
He's so iconic, is Sempé -- the day after viewing the exposition of his work in Bordeaux's Musée de Mer et Marine, we walked past this Morris column advertising the New Yorker magazine via an image of a Sempé cover illustration. . . 


So to see, in the same New Yorker that so regularly hosted Sempe's work,  a 20-something woman telling a gentle story about a young girl learning to draw horses -- and shyly, slyly, telling a whole other story about growing up and gender and sexuality --- well, that was a very lovely counterpoint, and one that -- having just traveled across nine time zones to see art and cartoons on far-off gallery and museum walls -- I was able to enjoy at 1:14 a.m. in the comfort of my own home, thanks to the wonders of social media.

Where I get to chat with you as well.
Which we can do soon, but meanwhile, I have a list to work on -- what do you think I'll start with? the gym workout or the breeze-kissed couch-reading?

14 comments:

Madame Là-bas said...

Is the gym is your building? It seems to me that the steps across the street are the furthest ones for me. Your sketch book must be great to revisit. I've started to look at old photos to remind me of all the lengthy trips that I have taken. The early morning hours...I'm waking somewhere around 4am these bright days. It sounds as though your home days will be very busy.

Anonymous said...

Breeze-kissed couch-reading ;-)!
Dottoressa

LPC said...

I vote for staying very still until any viruses from the airplane will have given up and left the premises and then full-on into the gym;). Welcome home, that essay on the horses and the young woman's sexuality was lovely.

Taste of France said...

How I needed to read this. The getting back on schedule, like landing after flying, or like the way your feet keep buzzing after you've taken your rollerskates off. The beautiful horse story, which is so poignant in the way the universal stirrings and fears are overlaid with another fear when one isn't straight--something straight people need to be reminded of. The casual sexism that once was and sadly still is. I hear far too much of it, and not always from the older generation. On a day when nothing is going right, my jaws are sore from a long dental appointment, and the skies are gray, poetry seemed impossible, and then you brought it here on a plate. Thank you.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

It’s a hot day here and I got my walk done before noon and the Fitbit says that I have done almost 10,000 steps so I Am rehydrating with lemonade and a bit of social media before I go out and hand water the roses. Your horses look amazing you’ve really got the knack. Jet lag and early wake times are the price we pay for travels afar...i’d suggest the couch with the soothing sound from the fountain until you are over the sleep deprived hours. You don’t want to get too run down.

Mary said...

Welcome home. To the temporary nether-world of jet lag. Home in body, but the mind is taking a bit longer to make the journey. Never mind that home requires your full attention. Just. not. possible...yet.

Marilyn Naron said...

Glad you enjoyed the New Yorker piece (and I love your own sketchy horses!)

materfamilias said...

Mme: So true, sometimes the longest steps in the workout are the ones to get across the street. . . so we're very lucky that we do have a gym in the building and if I can just make it to the elevator . . . I slept until 4:15 this morning and it felt great! Although 5 would suit me very well instead. . .
Dottoressa: How well you know me! ;-)
Lisa: That makes sense but I wouldn't have thought of it -- you must be an influencer because I decided to wait one more day before working out.
TofF: Your kind and thoughtful words made such a difference to me yesterday! I struggle occasionally with whether or not the blog is worth maintaining, and then to get this kind of feedback! Thank you!
Hostess: You're doing well with your FitBit! I let my iPhone count steps for me but it's not so easily visible. whatever gets us moving, right?
Mary: Ah, you sound well-acquainted with jet lag! And doesn't it seem to get tougher each year?!
Marilyn: Thanks so much for drawing it to my attention -- and for your kind comment here. I love your illustrations (that recent one of the market veggies!

Sue Burpee said...

Welcome home. The couch and a book will always win for me when we return from a long trip. I love to read while the washing machine is thumping... makes me feel somewhat productive while at the same time slothful. Plus putting off the leap into life at home for when you feel rested and energetic makes the "reentry" even sweeter. Loved the horse piece in the New Yorker. xo

Eleonore said...

I loved the horse story. Apart from being about adolescence and love and feeling, it is also about horses and about drawing, and I learned a lot. Thank you! How would I come across a sweet piece like this if it wasn't for you?

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ...sure does look like horses to me, all three of them, especially the one in the middle who is so clearly bending its neck and munching grass. You totally captured how their whole upper body folds just to have a little lunch. I would be proud to share them if I were you. So fetching, too, the white paint/ink on tan paper.
Back when my comments were going AWOL, I tried to comment on now remarkably well you conveyed to me that it was Paul that you sketched next to a car in France. Without reading the words, I immediately recognized his stance from many photos of him. In a few simple lines you nailed it completely. Not Paul!...the stance!
A.in London

materfamilias said...

Sue: Yes, that's a perfect solution, reading while supervising the washing machine from the couch! Wasn't that a great piece -- she packed so much into what looked roughly like a cartoon . . .
Eleonore: I loved it too -- like you, I found it satisfying at the level of what it claimed to be talking about -- so instructive about drawing horses, studying their gait -- and then at that whole other story that got told through pictures, words just glancing off it. . .
A. You are so kind! I do think these horses are better than the earlier version, and when I manage to look objectively, I can see there are some lines that I do quite like -- and I really like the way that white shows up on the tan paper -- It's the ubiquitous Sakura Gelly Roll white pen (which comes in a variety of tips so that you can get very fine to much bolder lines. I'm surprised at how quickly it's become a pen I want to have on hand always.

Stacy said...

Thank you for the tip about the cycling path. I've started collecting tidbits for a French cycling trip in spring 2020! The sketchbook was an enjoyable peek into your adventures.

materfamilias said...

Stacy, how exciting to have a trip like that to plan for -- I'm glad you found my post helpful. The Roger Lapébie trail is a gem.

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