birdwings wip figure sketch
female figure, pencil sketch

Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you are bravely working.

Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been wanting to see.

Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed.

Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birdwings.


Jacopo Pontormo, three male figures study

I read this Rumi poem, translated by Coleman Barks, a couple of weeks ago which I love for it's beautiful imagery of change and rebirth. This week I came across Pontormo's figure drawing in the book, Anatomy lessons from the great Masters, by Robert Beverly Hale & Terence Coyle.. Together they have inspired an idea of figures folding in and out like bird's wings. So there begins my next project!

I love the lines and movement in Pontormo's figure studies. He became orphaned at the age of 13, and shortly thereafter was placed in an apprenticeship with Da Vinci and then, in the year 1512, with Andrea del Sarto.

If you enjoy reading artist biographies, I recommend Vasari's Lives. And thanks to the Gutenberg Project you can now read Vasari's Lives online.

Exerpt on Pontormo:

In the meantime Signor Alfonso Davalos, Marchese del Vasto, having obtained from Michelagnolo Buonarroti by means of Fra Niccolo della Magna a cartoon of Christ appearing to the Magdalene in the garden, moved heaven and earth to have it executed for him in painting by Pontormo, Buonarroti having told him that no one could serve him better than that master ...
joining sunday sketches


  1. Our arms are really angel wings... I used to think that as kid, still do... ;o) LOVE the energy in your sketch, Juana! I've never been too good at anatomy drawing... My hubby & I used to go to a croquix drawing gathering when we lived in the city. It was good practice. Nothing like that where we are living now, unfortunately. Guess that's why it's good to have the Old Masters to try and study after! Happy Days ((HUGS))

  2. "Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
    up to where you are bravely working."

    I really like those two lines. Speaks to my heart. Thank you for sharing your wonderful work and words with us once again. :)


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