Yes, I've been MIA for quite some time. I had an adventure/walkabout/spirit quest and I'm still mulling over the experience. Not sure what, if any of it will be remotely interesting to anyone but me; I have a good friend that says "the only time the phrase 'I had a dream' interests me, is if the next words are 'and you were in it.'" I think spirit quests may fall into the same category. I'm not trying to be coy; things learned in solitude are useful only to the degree they affect us in the larger world. One thing I did learn though is, spirit quests never go according to plan. Maybe that's the point. Once I stopped trying to make anything happen, things got much better. If further rumination indicates, I will share my story with you, I promise.
In the meantime though, go check out this link.
A few weeks before before said spirit quest, I modeled again at the Salmagundi Club, the place where I first met the lovely and talented Ben Conrad. The instructor, David Hassan, had asked me to come back so he could do a demo drawing for interested students. What I hadn't expected was that his right hand man, Alex Leal, was going to videotape it. You don't actually see me (which is probably just as well; it might have gotten messy, I probably would have needed a special SAG waiver, and honestly , who can be bothered?), but you do see the drawing David does. In fact you see a three and a half hour session sped up to a little over seven minutes.
I think this is WAY cool, and I don't think it's just vanity on my part (though I do like the final image, as well as the stages along the way). I showed it to my roommate; he's moving out at the end of this month, and thus has no reason to keep me happy, yet he still insisted on watching the whole thing, even rewinding some parts.
I wish there was a way to show this to a lot of the beginning art students I will be seeing this Fall. Every year there are the same frustrations, questions and insecurities that I think this video would answer, if they had the savvy to see it. For one thing it shows drawing is a lot like sculpting. David masses in big shapes, knowing that if he doesn't quite like where things are, he'll be able to moosh them around later, and get them where they're supposed to be. Because of the speed (as well as David's clear expertise and confidence) it's easy to think every line he puts down is right where he wants it, doing exactly what he wants, on the first try. In way that's true; it's all part of the exploration, the experimentation. He puts down lines to see if that gives him what he wants. If they don't, he changes them. Yes, his experience means he probably gets a lot of the lines and shapes close to where he wants them right off, but he also works in such a way (lightly, yet specifically) that he can easily change and move things as he continues, shifting lines and shapes as needed as the drawing develops.
This, THIS is the sort of thing I love about modeling; the lessons I learn from this have direct application to my work as an actor, or just a person striving to live a conscious, responsible, creative life. Experiment. Try stuff, be confident in the execution, don't be tentative or ambivalent. At the same time, be prepared to change everything you just tried, if it's not working. Commit, but don't clutch, don't be precious. If something doesn't work, you still learned something useful. Change it. Try something else. To quote Samuel Beckett, "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." A mistake on the page is still LOADS better than a blank page, with you standing there, shivering and paralyzed, clutching your unused pencil.
I wanted to rephrase that last sentence, but I couldn't come up with anything that didn't make my inner adolescent snicker. He sees sex in EVERYTHING. All of you are far too mature to have gone down that road though, right? Moving on.
Anyway, like I said, it's also just a cool seven minutes. You watch a realistic image (and pretty good likeness, my roommate and I agree) forming out of squiggles, boxes, smudges and lines. Maybe you won't see a lesson in how to live your life, but it's still a neat experience.