Famous Artists’ Letters About Draw Something.
[Originally published July 3, 2012.]
I know the rules may forbid this, but I feel the need to contextualize my most recent work. As you’ll see, I originally tried to sketch the figure with a fat, red brush. Despite a promising start, I soon ran out of screen space. (I haven’t worked on so small a canvas since Academy.) For my second attempt, I sought more control with a fine-pointed cobalt stylus. It did not turn out as well as I’d hoped, and I beg you to turn from the screen and save me the embarrassment. You’ll hopefully find my third attempt adequate, but please don’t show it to the Pope. If His Holiness finds out my username, I fear I’ll never have a spare moment. I do feel this game has rekindled a vitality in my work, and it’s very much a godsend when there’s a long line at the silk shop.
Your Michelangelo of Rome
From: Jackson Pollack
To: Peggy Guggenheim
Thank you for alerting me to this new trend. At first, I dismissed the game as a gimmick, but my feelings reversed when I laid the iPad on the cabin floor. With the screen beneath me, I feel nearer, more part of the interface. This morning I spent four hours poking and dragging my finger over the screen to create the abstraction of the word “yogurt.” It’s progressing, but after lunch, in an effort to get further from the usual painter’s tools, I plan to beat the screen with wooden sticks and drip motor oil on it. I aim to finish soon, but Lee doesn’t like me borrowing her iPad, so I have to wait until she leaves the house for a hair appointment.
P.S. Thanks for picking up my data bill. I promise to watch the 2-GB limit next month.
From: Henri Matisse
To: George Braques
If Dali asks you to play a game with him, don’t. He claims he can’t figure out any of my drawings, but I think he’s lying to undermine my confidence. His forms are functional, I’ll grant that, but he avoids true chances and sticks to one-coin words. How can you say you aspire to greatness and then choose the word “bowtie”? And how pretentious the way he signs each of his drawings! Perhaps he’s smart, though. Did you hear that the Magritte’s scribble of “cigarette holder” sold for two thousand Francs? I had to play Angry Birds for an hour just to calm down. Anyway, do you know if there’s an Apple Store in Bahrain?
From: Robert Rauschenberg
To: Mark Rothko
“Forklift”? Really? “Forklift”? I stared at that thing my whole subway ride home, and the last thing I thought of was an industrial transporter. You know I’ve always supported your talent, but everything with you is basically a floating color cloud. Sorry to be harsh, but right now I’ve got four games going, and each does nothing but frustrate. Don’t get me started on Picasso. It’s impressive he’s tech savvy at his age, but everything the old man draws is basically a vagina—except, of course, when he gets the word “vagina.” And then Duchamp, the guy infuriates me. I mean, hey, it’s great he’s set on leaving retinal art behind, but not when I’m seven coins from a new set of brushes! By the way, have you heard from Jasper? Drunk texts, anything? I’m worried for him. After you watch his real-time attempts to draw “shark,” it’s hard not to question his grasp on reality.
From: My Sister
To: Wassily Kandinsky
If you’re not going to take this seriously, then don’t play.
To: Paul Cézanne
From: Vincent Van Gogh
My sincerest apologies about the delay. I’ve been in such turmoil I haven’t been able to rouse my finger to draw. You see, I’m in love! She’s an anonymous player—Bubbles23—a Parisian girl, I suspect, because of her unfamiliarity with American proper nouns. And, Paul, her use of forms is so carefree and spirited! It’s a bit like Rousseau, if he had only ten seconds and was painting with his mouth. After playing seven rounds with her I was so unbridled with desire that I laid bare my heart in a drawing of “bamboo.” That was four silent, painful days ago. What was I thinking!? My nudges are exhausted and every night I lie in bed refreshing to no avail. People herald the speed of the Internet like it’s a good thing, but to me it feels like I’m being rejected every second! And then I see on Seurat’s Facebook that she’s playing Words With Friends with Gauguin. Must he win everything? When I saw that last night I smashed my phone into hateful pieces. I felt better afterward, until I remembered I’m supposed to get a call about a freelance gig. Do you think I can sell the glass shards? Maybe I’ll call it Portrait of Betrayal. Or just Fuck Everything. Of course it’ll be tricky hanging it on a wall, but perhaps it could be considered a new form of art? Oh, forget it, that’s just the Merlot talking.
Going back to oil on canvass,
SUGGESTED READSList: Marcel Duchamp: The Mix Tape Biography
by Dorothy Gambrell (11/5/2001)
Monologue: The Artist Plays Basketball
by Kevin Haworth (9/21/2010)
by Colin Nissan (1/25/2011)
RECENTLYEight Excuses I Have Told My Son to Use for His Failure to Hand in English Homework, Excuses I Have Learned are Acceptable During a Thirty-Year Career in Journalism, Books, and Film
by Nick Hornby (2/5/2016)
Fear, Inc: Part Two: Alarmed and Dangerous
by Susan Schorn (2/5/2016)
Women Who Should Be Pretty Pissed Off: Frankenstein’s Stepsister
by Amy Watkin (2/5/2016)