Tag: drawing

of rice, ducks, water buffaloes, and musical instruments

In English that’s cute and endearing (though still quite difficult to understand even after 23 years in the US) Alexander Chen (known as the Master of Hyper-Realism because of his incredible attention to detail in his paintings) told of growing up in China and how at the age of 16, the Chinese government decided he would be a professional farmer. Chen was sent to a rice paddy where he planted 1, 2, 3, 4 rice plants this way, then turned and planted 1, 2, 3, 4 plants in a different way so as to allow the wind to blow through. Every day he and his co-farmers took 2500 ducks to the farm to eat bugs, and every night they took 2500 ducks back. From watching and counting the ducks, Chen learned to tell male and female ducks apart just by their heads. There were water buffalo, too – 25 of them that had to be herded back and forth daily. The young buffaloes were bad to wander off, but they always came back to their mothers. The older buffaloes were bad to wander off and keep going as long as the food held out. The more he talked, the more it became clear where he got his incredible attention to detail.

When he settled in San Francisco, he spent $700 and bought himself a Pinto. He took the car out for a spin, and quickly learned that it was good for about 100 miles. Knowing the limits of the Pinto, he began to take car trips within those parameters, and though a teacher taught him to sing “This land is your land, this land is my land,” he, like so many 16 year olds, credits his first car with teaching him about freedom.

[ ::: ]




When I left to take a walking break, I spied a painting by Anatole Krasnyansky that immediately made me think of Nancy and her drawings. Am I crazy? Maybe, but what I felt was thrilled.

[ ::: ]

Jeanne Hewell-Chambers wishes Nancy’s drawings were as revered (and sold for as much money) as Krasnyansky’s paintings.

* The Krasnyansky painting is titled Music Scene.

what makes us smile


Maybe she’s in a bad mood, but then Nancy doesn’t do bad moods, so who knows why she’s not smiling.


I pull out the sketchbook and pens, always giving her a choice since she gets to choose so few things in her day-to-day life. She selects the purple pen (because purple is still her favorite color) and without saying a word, she begins to draw. She doesn’t stare at something, wondering how to recreate it on the page; she doesn’t think about what she’s going to draw, she doesn’t ask me what I want her to draw. She just puts the pen to the paper and draws, our Nancy does, and it’s a sight I’ll never grow tired of.


And as I turn to a clean page for her seventh drawing, she’s smiling.
Art does that for a girl.


She fills the page with her drawing – very rounded, and flowing, very similar to the first set
of drawings
she did in 6/2012. Then she comes back and obliterates parts of the drawing with layers of heavy marks. “I like it,” she says. Then “I’m good at this” followed by “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” I tell her. Then, probably because of the good music they were playing at the restaurant, I say “Nancy, do you remember when you and I would go back to your room and you’d put on your favorite records and we’d dance and sing, just the two of us?” Of course Nancy doesn’t grasp the concept of memory or passage of time, at least not that we can tell. Maybe she charts time differently than we do. Maybe she’s drawing the memory of us dancing and singing as I talk about it. These lines and marks seem to be becoming her vocabulary, you know, a way for her to express things she can’t articulate in words. Nancy’s not bound by calendars and clocks and words.

We met Michelle this morning, Andy, Nancy, and I. As we were leaving, Michelle said “Goodbye, Nancy” and Nancy reached out and grasped Michelle’s hand, looked her in the face, and said, “I love you.” Nancy’s not bound with societal norms and fears either.


In Expressive Drawing: A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within, Steven Aimone says a drawing is finished when nothing else occurs to you or when you really like what you see.

(It’s true that I occasionally view that frenzied obliteration, those layers and layers of lines in terms of how much time and thread I’m gonna’ need.)


And when you’re finished drawing, it’s time to go to ride in the convertible, of course. Another thing that makes a girl smile.

[ :: ]

The museum exhibit closes tomorrow, so I’m a day early and have nothing to post about in Nina Marie’s Off The Wall Friday, but I’m taking a cue from Nancy and tossing the calendar out the window.


6 159 1 erased


Today started off much like yesterday ended:
with a cloud poem.
Interesting how the clouds actually look quite similar,
like today just picked up
where yesterday left off.


This is Chuck.
He apparently loves dangling earrings,
based on the way he lunged at me
and used his freshly-sharpened claws
to climb up my chest in
pursuit of the aforementioned
less than 5 seconds
after I snapped this photo.

[ :: ]

We paid Nancy a surprise visit today.
When we walked in,
she was sitting in the living room,
cleaning out her pocketbook,
tossing papers on the floor.

We took her for an after school snack,
and of course I just happened to have several
new, blank sketchbooks and markers in my pocketbook.


There were birds


and two-toned drawings


and double-page spreads,
(She always started with the
righthand page
then spread out onto the
page on the left.)


You’ve heard stores about
books and businesses
and inventions
getting their start on
a napkin?


She was uncharacteristically serious
about a few drawings,
intent on what she was doing.


But for the most part,
she was her usual smiling,
contented artistic self.


Today she started every drawing with a word,
usually her name
or the word “love”
or a combination of the two.



Then she set about
embellishing the word


layering drawings
until the word was nearly invisible.


Like always,
she knew when she was finished
with one drawing
and ready to start another.

[ :: ]

Remember those papers she was throwing away
when we first arrived?


Read the line at the bottom of the page:
Hidden pictures.
Do babies only smile
when they have gas?
I think not.
On both counts.


It was a good day.
Art-filled days usually are.



She is my developmentally disabled sister-in-law, Nancy,
and I am Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her.
Go here to start at the beginning.

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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