HB and 7B graphite pencils on white Canson 50-pound (74-G) acid-free paper
Dimensions: paper 9-1/16 inches (23 cm) high by 6 inches (15.3 cm) wide; image about 5-1/2 inches (about 14 cm) high by about 3-3/4 inches (about 9.5 cm) wide
One of the most interesting things about art, for me, is the behind-the-scenes stories of how a work of art came to be, how it developed from an idea or an accident or whatever. For example, I developed this small drawing from a stunning photograph that I noticed on the cover of a very old book, Curves and Contrasts of the Human Figure by Bertram Park and Yvonne Gregory, published 1936 by John Lane, the Bodly Head, London. Park was a distinguished British photographer, who snapped many famous people back in the 1930s and 1940s, including the British royal family.
Just as an exercise, I sketched the photo, adapting it here and there. As I worked on it, the beautiful, real-woman lusciousness of the figure reminded me of a very nice lifeguard at the YMCA where I swim -- though she seems to have no idea how wonderful her figure truly is. So, in my mind, the working title became her name. But many women, especially American women, do not especially like their figures and do not see them as positively as an artist would. As well, although I meant it to be complimentary, I felt I was somehow violating her privacy by using her name as a title. Her friends might tease her, and she might become self-conscious about her body. This would be a tragedy. And I remembered something else. Besides my nice lifeguard, so many women have figures so lush and beautiful that they make everyone want to be an artist -- and make every artist want to be a sculptor -- I began thinking of the drawing as perhaps representing not just her, but virtually every woman. Hence the new name, She.