Saturday, June 20, 2009

On Target: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes & Father's Day Thoughts: On Being a Father

At the Supertarget at the counter in the eating area, my target was a blonde girl with an unusual outfit: she wore a white medical jacket, a black baseball cap, long black pants and black sneakers. She also had a small black purse - I guess you could say that the purse matched the outfit. She didn't see me drawing her, and I had plenty of time. She left when I was leaving.

This sketch in public is a step forward for me in a few ways: First, I think it is the first time in a restaurant environment that I managed to draw an entire person. Woohoo! Second, I applied all of the watercolors, there, on site. For me this is very new. I have only just begun using colors in my sketches.

Lamy Safari with Noodlers ink and watercolors in a Moleskine

This drawing meets Everyday Matters challenge no. 36 - Draw out in Public. While I have drawn in public many times before, drawing in ink and then applying watercolor on site, and actually completing the person, makes me grab this challenge like a prize!

It's just a few hours till Father's Day, so please excuse me while I depart from the usual subject of art, and indulge in some fatherly rambling and occasional bragging about my sons (as this doddering old fool will sometimes do). Before I begin I will mention that because it is Father's Day, the boys' mother is not mentioned. This is, of course, a crime, because their mother, my wife, is wholly dedicated to her boys in every way possible. She worries more than I do, feels more than I do, works more than I do, and loves the boys with every ounce of her soul. But, sorry mom, it is Father's Day. Crime committed.

My oldest son, Ian, age 19, has never been so far away from us before. He is in college majoring in chemical engineering, and for a semester he is studying abroad in France and exploring Europe. What a young man he has become! Besides doing very well in school (his job, I know, but he does his job well), he has come to be a responsible, self-reliant, honest, moral, and self-reflecting individual. I could not be more proud than to have Ian as my son. I miss him, and look forward to stealing what time I can with him during the week between semesters. (Yes, and though written in the third person, this message is for you, Ian. I love you.)

My youngest, Matthew, is 13-years-old, and of course he is still at home. What is unusual is that he will probably always live at home. He will not read this post. Matthew is autistic.

Matt has taught me more about what it means to be a father than I ever knew that there was to learn. He is a constant challenge. Still, he is always moving forward, though slowly. Since for many parents of autistic children, there is no progress at all, this is a blessing. It gives me some hope. He tests the limits of my abilities and dedication, but he has taught me to be more even-tempered, more patient, and more empathetic. In sum, I am a better person because of Matthew. Most of my worries are for Matt - who he will become, what he can accomplish, what life he can live - but with all of the complexities that is Matthew in sum, life is richer for having him as my son.

Being a father is not unique. Everyone on earth has had a father, of course. But for me, fatherhood is rare. And it is precious.


  1. I think your sons are blessed to have you for a father...and your wife as their mother...a lovely tribute to what family is all about.


  2. Your sketch is wonderful; your thoughts are poignant and beautiful! Thank you for sharing both!!

  3. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts! What a wonderful post.

  4. Thank for the thuoght of fathers ,I lost mine in my early years but, thank God for the time I had with him.nice work!

  5. Wonderful sketch - congrats for doing the whole thing in public - HAPPY, HAPPY Father's Day.

  6. Brilliant drawing. I find it hard to find someone to draw in public I always feel abit rude but I spose I'll just get better with practise. Keep it up :)

  7. Awesome job, and it really doesn't look like you're doing this for the first time. It's like you've done this thousands of times simply because you've captured that person's moment.. and to be able to do that is always something extraordinary

  8. Sometimes I just do a gesture drawing, then can finish my drawing later. Just looking while doing the gesture, gives me enough information to complete the drawing on my own. Some people will be flattered that you are drawing them! Happy Fathers Day. Looks like you have a wonderful family.

  9. Thankyou for your advise and encouragement it helps a lot :) I know that improvement comes with practise it was totally noticeable in my drawings in the first couple of weeks at college. During life drawing I could never fill the page, my drawings were always small but by the end of the course my drawings filled the page and were fluid...I might see if I can find them and put them up.

  10. Beautiful line work, or play, in this one Dan.

    Appreciate your thoughts on Father's day. I had a blessed one. My dad died in 2000 and, sadly, in many ways the greatest thing I felt at the time was simply relief. We were the victims of both mental and physical (though never sexual) abuse. Only in recent years have I been able to call back to mind the early days and the man I knew and loved as "dad." These are precious days we have here and we must make the most of them for others as well as ourselves. Peace and good drawing to you.

  11. Thank you all for your wonderful comments.

    Owen, thank you. I have reached the same conclusion: that we must make the most of every day for others as well as ourselves. We take from what we experience, both good and bad, and hopefully we grow. I think from your father you learned the unintended lesson. So you share beauty and joy, which is why I visit your blog every time you post.