...just rather busy. And I have had a bad attack of cystitis (you all really wanted to know that, didn't you?!). The constant nagging discomfort, verging at times into real pain, is beginning to get me down after four days.
Think positive, Dent.
I had a wonderful Drawing Day last Friday - I booked a day off work so I could indulge myself totally. I went back to "re:Rite", used up almost a whole A5 sketchbook, and worked a brand-new 4B pencil down to a stub, drawing musicians. I managed to get everything from detailed portraits to the most flailing Zen-Spaghetti drawings; to me, these all say something worth saying. There are no failures; there are only interesting experiments. Everything takes you somewhere, even if only to a place of knowing that "That didn't come off". Most of it, at least to me, carries so much resonance - of the music and the energy of the performance - that it fairly zings on the page, whether the image is a recognisable face and identifiable instrument, or Zen-Spaghetti loop-lah chaos.
I listened to the whole of the conductor's commentary on the headphones provided (& it was absolutely fascinating) and took advantage of this to also draw The Maestro, about fifteen times - again, managing to produce everything from a proper thumbnail portrait to a couple of Zen-Spaghettis. As he is a moving target, to say the least, the Spaghetti drawings were only to be expected. Some musicians sit comparatively still, others move about a certain amount, but in most cases they were moderately simple subjects, with at most face and hands in movement. The Maestro bounds about like a dancer, grinning, pulling faces, and waving his arms, never stopping the entire time. Wonderful to watch - and his commentary was illuminating, funny and oddly touching - but a tough challenge to draw.
I've done one large drawing since (cello section, focussing in, as it developed, onto the figure of principal cellist Karen Stephenson) and begun a second last night. It feels good to be doing some big drawings again.
I also danced my feet off a concert by Vieux Farka Touré (who was corking) and Rachid Taha (who may have been drunk; but his set was great fun, like a north-african-inflected early Rolling Stones). And I did some useful domestic things like grocery shopping and cleaning as well. And defrosted the freezer. I don't think this had been done for about two years. It took five and a half hours. Ugh. I deserved my whiskey and my drawing session, after that.
I also went to the triple bill at the Royal ballet. Melissa Hamilton is wonderful. Yuhui Choe is wonderful. Eric Underwood is wonderful.
So are quite a lot of the company, actually.
"Agon" looked a bit untidy at first - Balanchine needs precision and clarity and both were lacking somewhat in the opening ensemble - but then they got it together and the second pas de trois and the pas de deux were spot-on. The score is Stravinsky at his most spare and taut and spiky, the choreography appropriately a back-and-forth shifting, between lyrical beauty and angular abstraction. "Sphinx" was bonkers but terrific, Edward Watson was as stunning as ever despite a very silly mask, and the playing of the Martinu Double concerto was a treat. "Limen" was also slightly bonkers, and I'm not too sure it meant as much as it meant to mean, if you know what I mean. But it was splendidly danced, the staging was weird but very effective and the music (Kaija Saariaho's Cello concerto) was simply amazing.
On the way home, I found myself walking into the tube station just behind Gary Avis, also of Royal Ballet fame. I don't know if he'd been at the performance or doing something else (he wasn't dancing that night, at least not in the triple bill). He is less tall, handsomer, and more melancholy-looking in person than he appears on stage. He got on a different train to mine and stood there waiting to go, with a sad, downcast gaze. It would have been rude to bound on board and grab his arm and tell him I think he's wonderful; but I do. Gary Avis, you are wonderful; and I hope whatever was making you feel blue on Tuesday night is soon sorted out.
Now I'm off home to reheat last night's fish stew and get some more charcoal under my fingernails. Drawing board, "re:Rite" sketchbook, stinking fixative and all; here I come...