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Archive for February, 2011

Drawing Chicago school children with Lincoln was rewarding for me.  But there was a special pleasure in drawing tourists who spoke exotic languages.  Aramaic anyone?  I found it particularly poignant to draw visitors from Korea, China and Vietnam–with Lincoln.   For them, being drawn like this seemed to be the highlight of their day.  Even with the language difficulties I could tell that they knew all about Abraham Lincoln’s life and death, and were absolutely tickled to be shown sitting on his lap.  I know that these drawings are now framed in those distant cities and villages and probably serve as a source of inspiration to innumerable people.   Hey, in some parts of the world, inspiration is hard to come by.  The story of Lincoln tends to move people.  And images are powerful movers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

 

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Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809. I had the privilege of drawing visitors at the Chicago History Museum on the bicentennial of his birth—not just on the birthday itself, but for a whole year after that.  He is probably even more beloved than Washington, owing to his humble origins, his wit and certainly to the fact that for him we have actual photographs. He knew he wasn’t photogenic.  One of the stories he told was that a woman in public once told him that with a face like that he should stay indoors.   During his presidency, Lincoln was often photographed and getting an appealing likeness of his craggy face and obstreperous hair must have been a challenge to the  photographer’s skills in lighting and posing.  The most approachable photos of him are by the Scottish born photographer Alexander Gardner and I chose Gardner’s full frontal shot of the face for my drawing.  It’s still an extremely melancholy Lincoln I was looking at, but I tried to suggest that he was thoughtful rather than sad or suffering from illness by putting a pile of books on the bench he’s sitting on.  I knew I would be drawing a lot of kids on school outings to the museum.  So, yes, books would not only be appropriate as a prop for Lincoln but would also serve as a reminder to the kids.  Read books!!

Imagine this drawing framed in Audrey’s (shown here) room.  When she learns about Lincoln in school or sees the Lincoln sculpture by Daniel Chester French in Grant Park, she will feel a personal connection to the president and perhaps write an extra fine term paper on him.  That’s worth my effort.

The drawing of Lincoln was Xeroxed on gloss paper, the kind I draw on in China Marker.   The visitor who wanted to be drawn with Lincoln was then drawn as if sitting on his thigh or sharing the bench with him.  The addition of the visitor blended in perfectly with the Lincoln already on the paper.

Some ten to twelve-year-olds knew very little about Lincoln and some—especially the ones wearing Lincoln t-shirts—were Lincoln scholars and couldn’t contain themselves in reciting all the things they knew about the president.

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http://artamaze.wordpress.com

All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.

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The banner on the fireplace molding said:  “Another Beautiful Day in Paradise.”   It was straight across and neat,  in printed Nuptial script, about four inches high.  Paradise, day, beautiful, even “another”—all thoughtful, touching words.  It was a birthday party for Gracie, turning twelve.  I suppose we’re all beautiful when we’re twelve, and bright and eager to learn; also, a funny mixture of gawky and glamorous, like foals.  When I asked what school they went to, I got “O.L.P.H.” where the P stands for “perpetual.”  Another great P word.  Not as great as “paradise” but close, though some of the girls thought it was a weird word and some were proud that they had memorized the definition.

When they weren’t sitting for the caricature, they were playing “Minute to Win It” and being hilarious about it.  How could you not be hilarious shaking off the cotton ball stuck to the Vaseline on the tip of your nose!?  When the games petered out and the floor was being cleared of all the Minute debris, they gathered around to watch the drawing.  That produced lots of giggles.  But then they also noticed my water bottle in the midst of the markers.  Neat!  If it falls over it’ll spill a few drops but not much.  “How did you put the hole in the top?”   I used an electric drill, I said.  Electric drill?  This called for some elaboration.  I said, it was easy, but you had to clamp the top down on a work bench.  Work bench?   I had to explain that as an artist I worked with stuff like that.  It really was easy, I insisted, without seeing any conviction on their freckled faces.  But between perplexed looks, they said, I want one of those, that is so neat.  Very sweet.  They’re twelve.

www.khilden.com

http://facefame.wordpress.com

http://artamaze.wordpress.com

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