Introduction I started writing this at 3:15 in the morning. That’s part of the problem. Or anyway, that’s how this book ended up in your hands. I should be sleeping, but I’m making lines in a notebook. When I began a daily drawing blog in May of 2011, I had no idea what I was doing or what I would draw. I just felt it was something I needed to do. I’d been writing nonstop for various projects and was hardly drawing. At all. I found myself just wanting to produce something visual on a regular basis. No loftier goals than that. But after a dog, buccaneer, and a couple turtles, I was quickly having a hard time figuring out what to draw. Drawing outside the confines of a story has always been alien to me. So I drew Ned Glass. Why Ned Glass? I didn’t have a specific reason. He just sort of… bobbed to the surface of my subconscious soup. I loved him in West Side Story and was always happy to see him in this or that production. He meant a little something to me. I think he reminds me of my dad. I think it’s his nose. I continued this way, occasionally drawing a portrait when I was otherwise stumped late in the evening and needed to draw something. I’d let my mind drift, or often simply pick a letter of the alphabet, then produce a name starting with that letter. (More frequently than not, by the time I got to the actual drawing, that initial person had reminded me of someone else, someone whose gravity was stronger for me personally. Or they just had a weirder face. A weird face goes a long way.) Eventually patterns started to emerge. Or more accurately: they emerged quickly and eventually I got around to noticing them. By the time I noticed I’d been drawing a lot of people that fit into certain categories, I already had far more portraits than I could fit in a single volume.
About that categorization: it’s pretty arbitrary. Any number of the people in these pages could have landed in another section. Billy Wilder was a genius writer. Kurt Vonnegut was no slouch as a cartoonist. Wasn’t Patrick McGoohan primarily an actor? Sure. But that’s not what motivates me about him and his work. So perhaps the categorization, while seemingly arbitrary, says as much about how each of these people influenced me as the notes at the end. But the endnotes go into a bit more detail, use more words, and are in smaller type. Sorry about the small type. Two other apologies on this volume’s behalf: First, for the sadly ubiquitous problem that this book is flooded with dead white men. There’s a clear dearth of minorities and women here. I see this stemming partly from the sexist, racist landscape of our cultural past and from laziness on my part for not more intently seeking out those otherwise held back or obscured by that past. So my apologies all around for that imbalance. Second, my apologies to my wife, Emily, who is sleeping beautifully beside me as I’m penning this in my notebook. She has endured all too many 3:15 writing sessions, has listened to me expound on all of those in this book for far longer than anything in the endnotes. She has been patient, enthusiastic, and when all others’ patience would have withered, tolerant. Infinite thanks are insufficient. I hope you enjoy these portraits as much as I did discovering, rediscovering, or reseeing each of these people. I look forward to exploring more soon. Tomorrow. Paul Hornschemeier Rockport, MA August 2013 1
Why draw _____? Artists
4 Maurice Sendak. It’s an odd moment
when you discover the creators behind the works you love. And few discoveries were more eye opening to me than Mr. Sendak. That one man could have played a role in Where the Wild Things Are and Pierre and Little Bear and, and. The parade of ampersands marches on through my childhood. I felt, as did millions, a very personal loss when he left us. 5 Richard Scarry. Everything he made was so perfectly Scarry, so warm and floating. The aesthetic equivalent of a towel fresh from the dryer. Of all his creatures, I was most obsessed with Lowly, the hat-adorned worm. Lowly spoke to me as a lovable oddball. For years, I had a Lowly in my studio, until passing it on to my niece, a very lovable oddball with a hat of red hair. 6 Heinz Edelmann. At my grandparents’ house, my sisters and I would draw on giant dot matrix printer paper and watch cartoons. On several occasions the cartoon in question was The Yellow Submarine. It destroyed me. What was this? A nightmare fused with ballet (The Nutcracker had a similar effect at an even younger age). I was scared. I wanted to watch it again. It still makes me crawl a bit. But I keep a Blue Meanie in my studio nonetheless. 7 Alex Katz. The first time I saw an Alex Katz piece was in high school. I didn’t like it. It was so… still. I was too frenetic at that age to appreciate that kind of restraint. Soon enough, though, his work (and similarly David Hockney’s) became important to me.
Paintings that managed to be figurative, almost photographic, yet hold within their borders far more than a single image should be able to contain. 8 Edward Hopper. The commonalities between Katz and Hopper are what drew me to Hopper, but the differences are of far greater interest to me now. Both so often feel still, but Hopper’s color and painting technique grant his world a burning, aggressive sadness. The aftermath of passion in a relationship both parties know is over, but lack the strength to voice it. 9 Charles Sheeler. I only came across Sheeler’s work in the last few years. My loss. Here again, the similarity to another (this time Hopper) enticed me to explore his paintings. But Sheeler’s work mines yet another stillness: the world of man’s creation devoid of its creator. Our buildings, bloodless. 10 Marcel Duchamp. In college, a friend said he despised Duchamp. “He was a charlatan!” I think that’s precisely why I’ve come to love him. He was laughing while the art world shook its fist at him. He was playing. With toilets. 11 Charles Schulz. I’ve rewritten this note more than any other in this book. Charles Schulz’s impact is impossible to summarize. As a melancholic child, I connected with the idea of Charlie Brown. But as I grew older, I connected with the idea of the man who sat by himself drawing that little blockhead, day after day, for almost fifty years. 12 Steve Ditko. My first comic book was given to me by my dentist. In it were reprints of old Ditko and
Romita Spider-Man stories. There was no question who I liked better: Ditko. His drawings are Spider-Man. The melting, wilting, pained lines and compositions so perfectly fit the dejected teenager and his wisecracking, webslinging counterpart. 13 Ansel Adams. I always loved the majestic quality of Adams’s photographs, but when I studied the mechanics of photography and film I appreciated the patience these long exposures must have required. Thinking of him watching, waiting… the work takes on another quality altogether. 14 Sandro Botticelli. I have a certain obsession with drawing a particular kind of eye socket. I brought this up once at a party and was treated to a roomful of disgusted stares. Can’t blame them, it sounds weird. But there is no surer fix for that obsession than studying Botticelli. Those eyes! I can never quite capture them correctly. 15 Gahan Wilson. Growing up, The New Yorker granted many gifts. The most grotesque but somehow friendliest to my eyes was Mr. Wilson. No one could make demons or the dreary more inviting. 16 Curt Swan. If Steve Ditko was perfection for Spider-Man, Curt Swan was that for Superman. His figures’ life and weight (or absence of weight, some of my favorites being his “seethrough” people) were wed so wonderfully with the strangeness of that era of the man of steel. Another artist would have made it all feel insane, but Swan just winked at you. “We’re in for another kooky adventure!”