Sachiko Umoto’s work has really helped me a lot in the last few days to push through a number of drawings, and complete many of the illustrations of the Decans of the Zodiac. There are perhaps six or seven more illustrations in the Decans to do, and then I can get started on the Mansions of the Moon. I’m eager to do those; I’ve managed to do about half of them in one form or another, but I’d like to push myself and just ‘get ‘er done’, you know? This prototyping business is kind of wearing-down, after a while. This object has been sitting, partially finished, on my desk or near my desk for most of the summer, while I taught myself drawing skills. Something in one of the Sachiko Umoto books really spoke to me, though. She said, basically, that the quality of your drawings don’t really matter at the beginning. It’s important to try. Zach, who does the illustrations at the coffee house I go to in the mornings, said much the same thing. He started out by scribbling his drawings, knowing that somewhere in that ‘cloud’ of lines, was the ‘right line’ that made the drawing clear and visible. He needed to make the mistake of several different versions of that line in order to find the right one. Even now, after years of practice, he said that the correct line still eludes him.
From an artistic perspective, I still have a long way to go. Many of the drawings within this kavad are copies of someone else’s, or composites. It may not matter, though. I’ven oticed that some of the drawings ‘speak’ to me, through the eyes or through gesture. Others of the drawings are still dead — the image I’ve tried to create doesn’t speak to the spirit or the mindset of that time of year, and so the picture doesn’t wake up or speak to the audience yet.
From a magical perspective, if such a thing exists, some of the pictures are starting to wake up. The eyes carry expressiveness and meaning to me, and I’m starting to feel like I’m communicating with some of the figures. Very unusual. The image for Cancer 3 is most expressive; I already feel like I’ve bonded with that little guy on the back of the turtle. Maybe it’s because I’ve drawn him so much and in so many varied forms. I find myself wishing there was a scene like that for every one of the figures; frankly, they’d be easier to draw.
It’s clear that some of these images will have to be drawn, again and again and again, until the final form of them emerges. Ironically, some of my earliest drawings in this series are the most accurate, and closest to their final form. The ones I did later are the ones which are farthest from their final form. IT’s as though I began drawing them in the right frame of mind, and I’ve never been able to recapture that frame of mind again, ever since. More practice, of several kinds, is clearly needed. Elements of the drawings are waking up, though, and getting stronger. There’s this sense that I’m looking at ‘real people’. My doing, or the work of my genius, in the sense of the Elizabeth Gilbert video — not entirely me, not entirely something or someone else? I don’t have a good answer to that.
A video of the kavad: