Friday, 29 January 2010

JD Salinger, 91

Last night's news decided what my one a day would be today. My writing hero, creator of my all-time favourite literary characters, died last night at the ripe old age of 91.

This sketch is my tribute to him. I know it's not perfect, but the process of drawing this picture was my way of showing him my gratitude and admiration. Danny Gregory wrote in his beautiful memoir, Everyday Matters:

'I caressed what I drew with my eyes, lingering over every curve and bump, gliding around contours and into shadows. No matter what I looked at in this way, I saw beauty and felt love.'

This is exactly how I felt while I was doing this portrait, the same feeling I get every time I draw my children's pictures. I never thought I'd feel the same way drawing someone I never met. But the looking and the seeing that went into this picture made me know him a little bit. I saw how thick his eyebrows were, how lovely and straight his nose was, how his long eyelashes cast shadows around his eyes. I saw the meticulously slicked back hair, the wisp of a smile, the youthfulness in his eyes. I saw, with relief, that he had once been a happy man. And this young, successful, possibly happy man is the one I will remember, not the old recluse whom people were always trying to draw out of hiding. Rest in peace, Mr Salinger, no one will hound you anymore.

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