That last post took so damned much effort to assemble that I decided, this round, to focus on something straightforward, easier. Isn’t that a lovely word, ease? Perhaps easy doesn’t mean lazy, after all; perhaps it steers us toward what’s natural, what’s genuine.
I scoured my list of possible topics to see what resonated. Anything that opened my eyes a little wider or made me sit up with attention, unexpectedly, even momentarily?
All of them seemed just too cumbersome in an already unrelentingly cold January.
One thing I for sure didn’t want to write about was how in December I attempted in the world’s worst French to guide a gaggle of 6- and 7-year-olds into the world of portraiture, when I ‘volunteered’ for le petit garçon’s class. It took so much energy to just do it, let alone write about it. Suffice it to say that I and 26 kids, together with one maîtresse and my American college student assistant, drew a bunch of portraits, and at moments it wasn’t pretty, but then again nor was it ugly, and we all learned from it I think.
What struck me more than anything was how much these children loved blind contour drawing. Dessin à l’aveugle, I think it’s called in these parts. I had temporarily forgotten that I love it too.
Stephanie, the young opera singer, ca. 2010
Adults kvetch a little even within the first two minutes of a blind contour drawing. Their minds wander, they begin to squirm. But these little people did not kvetch. They focused.
They loved having two rules to follow. One. You MAY NOT look at your paper, not once, during the five or so minutes in which we are drawing. Two. Once you start that line, you keep going, you don’t pick up your pencil or drawing tool. You imagine that you are an ant, you believe that you are this ant, crawling across the surface of whatever it is you’re drawing, and you let your mind quiet, and you DO NOT LOOK AT YOUR PAPER.
I saw you — ah ha! Resist the urge!
They also loved the results, the funny-looking-yet-recognizable drawings that magically emerged. I showed them one I did recently, how fun they could be.
I wonder where people get their distinct preferences for roasting time, because their beans, and roasting in general here, strikes me as a bit on the light side, I’ll call it an impressionist roast, whereas I prefer something more bold and intense and grounding, maybe something more expressionist. I bravely face this battle daily.
… but I digress.
Valentin’s been hosting these cuppings and competitions recently, first for the Aeropress European championships would you believe, this time for a pourover contraption called the Hario V60. I confess it was a bit over-the-top even for this enthusiast: as competitors weighed their grounds to the fraction of an ounce and fussed over the best way to pre-moisten their filters, I kept thinking, a possible delicious cuppa is sitting there getting cold! You serve it lukewarm, and it may have subtle toffee or ruby notes, but that whole component of the coffee-drinking experience went down the proverbial drain.
But both these events inspired me, woke something dormant. I thought, you know, why not just embrace these recent reminders of things I love, scramble them together, and take a break from all those words? So — here we are, with a pause visuelle you might say, of blind contour drawings inspired by daily life.
|. . . starting with coffee, of course|
I hope you enjoy them.
Winter, I'm told, is secretly preparing treats for us, but they won’t be ready for a while — something called spring I think it is? Hang in there. I will too.
|We begin rough, with whatever's at hand . . .|
|. . . and continue with leftovers from tree-decorating|
|The kaki trees — persimmon to you and me — which have generously agreed to wear their fruit a little longer, brightening otherwise stark surroundings. They’re everywhere; yet few people I've met seem to eat or cook with them…|
|Tools of the trade|
|Winter will not last forever, little grape vine|