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.
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