My genius neighbor, Fred, belongs to a group called the “Humanists and Free Thinkers of Fairfield County” (an oxymoron?) He has been trying to get me to one of their monthly meetings at the Silver Star Diner in Norwalk for many years and I finally agreed to join him. He said the speaker was going to be Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist from Yale. I had never heard of him but Fred assured me he was highly respected as an outstanding debunker of medical mythology and author of a blog called: Science-based Medicine. Dr. Novella turned out to be a fascinating speaker with a huge range of knowledge. He spoke about GMOs and the anti GMO movement, challenging the pseudo-science that has grown up against their use. I knew nothing about GMOs when I went in, and not much more going out, but I think I did learned something about the way pseudo-science works. …and I did some good drawings.
There were at least sixty people in the room: academics, scientists, teachers, writers, artists, ex-hippies, all ages, levels of accomplishments. The questions were intelligent and I found the evening much more enjoyable than I expected. Dr. Novella debunked the so-called “scientific” opposition to GMOs, showing how unscientific it was and, much to my surprise, the traditionally distrustful of the establishment audience agreed with him. When the “establishment” (i.e. Monsanto) is doing good – even if their motive is the bottom line, you have to give them credit.
As I always do at meetings, I sat and drew; this time on paper plates the kitchen thoughtfully gave me. I drew the speaker, the audience. Nobody noticed or cared. As is always the case, always always, the first couple of drawings were awful, stiff, overworked. I crumpled them up and threw them away. Then, I got on a roll: four good sketches in a row, but then, the bottom of the bell curve; I was tired. Nothing worked. These last ones also got discarded. It’s like it takes a while to warm up, then the drawings just flow, but after a while, I’m tired, run out of steam and they become stiff or overworked. Time to quit. While the images are theoretically portraits, they really aren’t. I’m not trying to get a likeness of an individual; I’m trying to create a human being that talks to you. Remember my story of the Renaissance sculptor, Donatello, who was said to have screamed at one of his incredibly lifelike pieces, “Talk! Damn you! Talk!”
Well, that’s what I do with my paper plates. I tell them: “Talk to me or I’ll throw you out!”