"Sandra, can you draw?"
Prelude_II_.jpg

Detail of painting Surabaja by Sandra Sallin@1982 My art gallery dealer, Marti Koplin : "Sandra, can you draw?"

Sandy: “Uh, I don’t know. I haven't drawn in a long time. I’m going to have to experiment.

My art gallery dealer: “Well, I’m curating a special exhibition here at the gallery of drawings by some of the nation's best artists. I’d like to include you in the show.”

This would be a ground breaking show. There had never before been a group show solely devoted to drawings, in a commercial gallery. It was a big deal and I definitely wanted to be included.

But, I hadn’t drawn since college. I never liked drawing because I loved color. I loved painting –– squeezing out gorgeous shades of oil paint onto my palette. Mixing together unique colors. Color. But, drawing? Not so sure.

Detail from Alor Star @1982 Sandra Sallin

When I was studying art at UCLA , one of the prerequisite classes was advanced drawing. My professor was Robert Irwin. His fame was in ascendence.  I mean he was a big deal. At the time, I thought of him as a cool dude who loved going to the horse races. His art was just part of his coolness.

I really wasn't interested in drawing; all I wanted to do was paint. So, I asked him if I could paint instead. His answer? “If you can prove to me that you can draw, I’ll let you paint your heart out.”

What did I draw? My hand. I simply sat there, pencil in hand, and drew my left hand. Finished. Showed it to Mr. Irwin. He studied it and said, “Not bad.” But, there was a student looking over his shoulder who said, “Hey, she’s drawn six fingers!” He looked at it again and said, “ OK, if I can look at this drawing of your hand that has six fingers and think it’s not bad, then you can paint what ever you want.!” Which is what I did. No black, white or grey for me. Color!

Pencils, erasers, pencil sharpener and graphite

 But now, I had this opportunity to be part of a major, high profile drawing show at my excellent gallery. I was stoked. This is what is called high motivation.  After the meeting with my art dealer, I drove downtown to PaperSource, a resource for any kind of paper. I was on a mission to find the absolutely perfect paper for my new creations.  It  had to be the perfect shade of white, not too warm, not too cool.The surface could not be too hard, too slick or too soft. After touching, rubbing and testing many sample papers, I decided on Strathmore Bristol Smooth Three Ply.

OK , next were the pencils. At UCLA, we usually just used a standard Berol Drafting pencil. It was a familiar blood red brown pencil with a soft lead. Ah, but for a “real drawing”, I wanted more. I purchased mechanical pencils with all the different hardness levels and a mechanical pencil sharpener. I loved the feeling of sharpening the mechanical pencils. There was a very satisfying sound to the grinding of the lead and it gave me time to think.

Collage of drawing pencilsWhat  to draw? I loved flowers and thought roses would be an inspiring beginning. Roses. But, where? Of course, the world famous Huntington Rose Gardens. I dashed out to Pasadena, camera in hand, to record images that would get me started.

My first drawing was a Single Rose.

Drawing of Single Rose@1991 Sandra Sallin

My next drawing was  Two Roses,

Two_Roses Drawing by Sandra Sallin

Hmmmm? I’m loving this. So, how about  Five Roses

Five Roses drawing by Sandra Sallin

Enough is never enough. I was on a roll. Then, another rose drawing, Iceberg.

Drawing Iceberg Rose by Sandra Sallin

I loved the sensuous feel of the graphite on the paper. I loved the shading. I didn’t want to stop drawing.

These four works were exhibited in the Koplin Gallery’s First Drawing Show. It was a huge success and there was much critical acclaim. David Rodes, UCLA Professor of English, and Director of the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts spoke at the gallery about the various drawings. He looked at my work said that they were "metonymous". Metonymous? I was thrilled, but didn't  know what it meant. Of course, I looked it up. It's origins were Greek and meant that the object was symbolic of something so much more. OK, I can live with that, especially from Professor Rodes!

Following the show he acquired one of my drawings for the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts. Not bad for an artist who hated drawing, hadn’t drawn in years but was now bewitched by this new medium.

It all started with a six-fingered hand and led to drawings like this, Prelude thirty eight inches high by forty five inches wide.

We're talking metonymous!

Drawing by Sandra Sallin, Prelude II