A Rugged and Manly Drawing

Here’s a charcoal portrait fresh off the easel of my ruggedly handsome husband.

Rather begrudgingly, Bryan has been my model many times. But ask the man to sit still and suddenly he’s got ants in his pants. And sitting still is like a life or death situation. As in he holds his breath and turns slightly purple because supposedly breathing is responsible for all of his wiggliness.

So for the most part this work was done from reference, although I’d like to think, as Bryan darts from place to place, I’ve caught enough glimpses of him for the past eight-ish or nine-ish years to consider this as work (partially) done from life.

The title is “The Cold Earth Slept Below,” based on a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley. I tend to draw and paint very soft, feminine things. Male models* can be drawn a little more rugged. Bill Whitaker likes to joke that, when it comes to painting men, as soon as you get the beard in everyone will exclaim that “it looks just like him!” I wanted this piece to feel a little dark and wild and yet Bryan glows with a look of resolve and focus, like a solid pillar amidst the bluster and cold. Not because he’s in deep thought or he’s reached an important conclusion or anything.

He’s just really very stubborn.

*It’s very difficult to say “male model” with a straight face without thinking of this:


  1. Julia

    It does look like he is moving forward, towards the light.

    Nice drawing, as usual.

    Funny, just yesterday I bought three circa-1950s sketches of the artist’s father. They look to be done quickly. No beard but he is whittling in one, brushing the link off of his suit jacket in another. In the third one he is sitting in a field with his hands around his knees, all very quiet.

  2. Mom

    Wow! That’s amazing. Bryan really has Blue Steel down, too!

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