Monday, August 15, 2011

A Kiss in the Crowd

   The essence of both visual and dramatic tension is the moment or space where two points almost meet. Perhaps this is the reason why I have been fascinated by kisses for my entire life. The mechanics of a kiss is really pretty bizarre when you compare it to most of the other gestures we use when in social situations. I mean at what point did human beings evolve the concept that touching mouths is a thing that should be done? You'd think far differently of me if i went up and stuck my finger in your ear, right? But it's even such a complex gesture that it can't be contained by merely defining it as a motion of affection. There are as many kinds of kisses as there are people who give them. A kiss can be coy, passionate, aggressive, tender, impish, impetuous, or even confrontational. To me, it expresses all the things that can happen when two people are that far within each others boundaries of personal space.
   Speaking of personal space, I tend to be very territorial about mine, and generally avoid places and scenarios where I am forced to share it. Which is why I surprised even myself by agreeing to go with my cousin to see the Darius Rucker Homegrown Tour concert. I think I wasn't expecting it to be all that crowded since he does it every year and hasn't been part of Hootie and the Blowfish for over a decade, but boy was I wrong. The stadium was packed by the time the warm up band finished. It was, of course, at that very moment when the bottom fell out of the sky in a torrential summer thunderstorm. The scene became a structurally reversed version of the Titanic: the rich folks stayed relatively dry and the rest of us in the cheap seats drowned. Because of the thunder and lightning we were forced to vacate the steel bleachers and wait out the storm in the gallery below. Of course with that volume of people nothing can happen fast, which made me wonder how it would have been had there been a fire, rather than mearly inconvenient and uncomfortable rain. So it took at least 30 minutes for us simply to get downstairs. Everyone was packed together, shoulder to shoulder, other parts to other parts, in a mass exodus that most of us silently agreed to get through as civilly as possible. But when you press that many people together when they can't move or really see where they are going, anything can happen. Two brawls very nearly happened when a man didn't appreciate people jostling his pregnant wife, and when a Jersey-born acquaintance of mine was accidentally shoved by then end of a domino-style series of stumbles as people tried to descend staircases littered with beer bottles.
  But then something completely different happened. A blond teen with a crew cut practically leaped over three of his friends to kiss a girl not two feet in front of me. He must have called her name, because she turned her head. He reached his entire body towards her, grabbed her neck and pulled her to him. He kissed her in the dazzle of the downpour. It wasn't a Euro-hello kiss, nor some childish "ha! I got away with it" kiss. This guy made it count! I saw he had blue eyes and they sparkled as he went for it and as he withdrew. The girl smiled. But then much to my confusion, the boy withdrew and melted back into the crowd. He didn't stay and chat or greet her friend she stood with or say "Bye." And I was like "WTF?!!" Who are you? Who is she to you? Where are you going? Why aren't you staying? WHAT'S GOING ON? I found myself entranced by these kids story that I had virtually no information about. It was a story made of a single gesture.
   Even if my phone hadn't gotten waterlogged and died, there would have been no way for me to whip it out and capture that moment. It happened in an instant. And plus if the kids saw me take a picture of their pda I'd have looked like a creeper. But I couldn't help it! It all happened 15 inches in front of my face! So I drew it. I'd like to take the time to work it into a fully completed drawing or digital painting, but only had time for a sketch this week.
It's so hard to draw a kiss happening and make it look real and believable. So much lining up has to happen and then how do you not mash noses? Anyway, maybe I'll work on it and post some process updates later.
In the meantime, check out the art of Claude Theberge: Some of his paintings of people kissing are kinda goofy, but I love the energy that his figures and compositions have because everything looks like it's posing or taking place in a high wind.

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