Art and Curly Hair

When I began printmaking, the images that instinctively came from my hands had a certain look: full of detail, and leaning always toward the precise. For years I resisted this, wanting my work to be more gestural, to have vigorous, loose movement like my teacher’s. I yearned for a style that didn’t come naturally -- the way, it seems, people with straight hair wish they had curly, while curly-headed people always seem to want straight. Over time I came to embrace the style that feels innate, and since then, I notice that I’ve spontaneously loosened up a bit. Merty McGraw shared with me a similar story. When she draws, what flows from her fingertips has a characteristic look with lots of intricate detail, but she yearns to create images that are less (in her words) “cartoonish.” Merty explained with satisfaction that in this image she stretched herself: while the astounding hat and neckline represent her usual style, the skull has the kind of line and shading she’d like to move toward. She combined what she calls her “doodle” style with carving that describes light as it moves across a surface, and the print bridges the two approaches beautifully.

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