The Figure in Balance
Balance is the thread that ties this body of work together. Stones balance on other stones; human figures balance on the earth; lines and shapes are arranged on paper to form balanced compositions.
When I draw the human figure from life, I rarely draw the things around her, like furniture, walls or the floor. The figure is then said to be "floating" on the paper, often creating an unbalanced composition. Some years ago, I began adding things to my figure drawings - various objects, sometimes realistic, other times imaginary or whimsical, with the purpose of balancing the composition and grounding the figure. Then one day I drew a stack of balanced stones in place of a chair that the model had been leaning against. I’ve always been into stones, even as a kid, collecting rocks while on family vacations, then later finding creative things to do with stones at the beach. Eventually I began to balance them, one on top of another, and that grew into something of an obsession.
Stone balancing is a mindful, peaceful activity best practiced in nature, preferably near a body of water - a river, a lake or the ocean. When a stone goes into balance, it floats out of your hands and is almost like the earth's gravity becoming visible right before your eyes. The textures that I draw represent not just the physical texture of the stone itself, but also the energy that I feel emanates from the stone when in balance.
Humans emanate energy too, and as an artist I try to interpret that energy as it radiates from my model. My figure drawings are not anatomical, they are impressionistic. I draw what I see and what I feel, without relying on a studied knowledge of the inner workings - the bones, muscles and tendons. While my figures don't show realistic anatomy, they do show the model's attitude and, on a good day, a glimpse of her psyche.
The models who have contributed their energy to this project are powerful, confident women to whom I owe a debt of gratitude. The sharing of one's body for artists to study and learn from - and be inspired by - is an invaluable gift. I use the term "girl" in many of my artwork titles, which serve as an invitation for you, the viewer, to use your imagination and make up your own story. These titles are, of course, a play on the current literary trend, books with names like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. In that story, the titular "girl" is a hero of undeniable strength and ability. In my book, those who model for artists are heroes as well.
--Steven Vander Meer, 2018