Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2 is always 2

Obviously there's a story behind this, so I'll try to explain the best way I can.

When I first moved to Atlanta to attend Portfolio Center, I had never taken an art class in my life, but knew it was something that I had always loved and appreciated. Having never studied art, I was terrified to just jump in; I knew that my colleagues would have either studied art before, or knew so much more than me, the girl who just went to comic book conventions and couldn't tell a Matisse from a Klimt to save her life. All the illustrators that I look up to and admire, like Peter de Seve or Ralph Steadman, were unknown names to me a mere two years ago. I hadn't painted or opened an Adobe product in my life. I was a scared girl with a 2 gajillion dollar computer she didn't know how to use in an unfamiliar city with zero artistic merit.

The first class (ever in my life) I attended was Gary Weiss' figure drawing class. All I knew about Gary was that he was a slow-talking Southern man that was about 16 feet tall with somewhat precarious posture--this was my first art teacher ever. I was intimidated and second-guessing my newfound career path. Our first conversation went something like:

Gary: How much figure drawing have you done before?
Me: Um, something close to nothing, yeah. *laughs nervously....to crickets chirping*
Gary: ...
Me: Heh heh...um...
Gary: I'll get you an easel. I want you to go ahead and try.
Me: *getting increasingly more nervous, and now there's a naked lady in front of me* Um...okay?

Needless to say, my first attempts at figure drawing were bleak. I'm surprised the whole class didn't laugh at me, and if Gary was less of a man he would either be laughing at me or trying to find some way to get me out of his class. But, instead, he knelt down next to me (hard to do, considering his legs are 10 feet long each) and took his charcoal and said, "Here, start like this."

This moment began one of the most fulfilling friendships I've had in my 26 years of life. It didn't come without it's hardships--I never got a "good job" from Gary until a year and a half under his tutelage--but he has pushed me harder and taught me more than any teacher or friend has ever tried to push me. He has had the confidence in me that I could never find in myself until years later. It made the first "good job"--and I'm proud to say, the many other "good job"s that followed--all the more important, and worthwhile, and cherished.

Gary is known amongst the illustration crew for saying some phrases that make sense in the context of his brain, but are usually vague and questionable to everybody else. One basic design principle of illustration is that if there are to be a number of objects in the area, the best compositions call for an odd number of objects.

However, Gary's way of communicating this idea was, "Because, two is always two."

We laugh about it constantly (lots of "blue is always blue!" and "food is always food!" comments inevitably follow), but in this statement, I see what I really feel is the basis of the kind of person Gary is and the kind of friendship we've forged, which is that things don't have to be complicated or difficult or hard. The good things are always simple and not hard to understand, and will be constant, forever.

So, thanks Gary, for taking a chance on this stubborn kid who just liked to draw comics. You're my first mentor, my greatest friend, and I look forward to pissing each other off until the end of time. "2 is always 2" is on my drawing hand, so if I ever need a boost of confidence when it's 3am and I'm about to lose my mind over a drawing or painting or whatever artistic endeavor I've wrapped myself up in, I can look down at my wrist and remember to think simple, and everything becomes a little bit more clear.

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