Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What R. Crumb Taught Me

It may be anathema to blog about R. Crumb so shortly after Pekar died, but there it is: The mind wanders. Those of you who don't know who R. Crumb is should go find out. If you don't, as I expect you won't, here the important thing that R. Crumb taught me:

You can't make this stuff up.

Others have said it, but Crumb drew it.

What's "it"?

The mundane, like power lines. Sure he could draw a voluptuous girl with a chicken head, but he could also draw doorknobs. If you can't draw a good doorknob, nobody will believe a chicken in fishnet stockings.

This is a detail from a self-portrait. Not a successful self-portrait: Artists who loved me enough to kiss my eyes said it was romanticized, that I needed to push the medium (silverpoint) until I got a true black, and that mixing raw cobalt in the gesso was not a successful experiment. All those things were true. But I got one thing right. The power lines are dead on true.

So that is what R. Crumb taught me. Get the power lines.

You can't make that stuff up. You have to see it. You have to see it. Then you can draw. Then you can write.
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