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

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