Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Daily Study: Whitman and Psyche
Study for a larger work, charcoal on mylar drafting film, with digital underlay of a Walt Whitman poem. Image size: 9 1/2 x 7". In vintage tabletop swing frame: 12 1/2 x 11" overall. Facsimile butterfly.
Another small work to be included in my "Black Butterfly: The Muse" solo show, which is scheduled to open on September 18th in Chicago. In the series, the butterfly is a symbol for the artist's muse, and all of the subjects I'm drawing are in the arts. I've been reading poetry recently, and am pleased to include Walt Whitman in the series.
"Whitman and the Butterfly
The reference photograph, taken in 1877, was one of Whitman's favorites. He used the butterfly-on-hand as a recurring motif in his books and intended for this photo to be reproduced as the frontispiece in this sample proof of Leaves of Grass from 1891. To foster the image of himself as one with nature, he claimed that insect was real and one of his "good friends." But a band visible around Whitman's finger matches the wire under the butterfly artifact (above). This colorful cardboard prop was tucked into one of the first Whitman notebooks donated to the Library in 1918. The word "Easter" is printed down its spine. Dr. Bucke, one of his literary heirs, said the butterfly was Psyche, the poet's soul."*
*source: “Good Gray Poet: Revising Himself”, http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/whitman-goodgraypoet.html