What have you been doing this winter?
Myself, I find laying in bed and ready to sleep but instead of sleeping or reading, I’ve been pulling out this sketchbook I purchased a few weeks back. In it I find myself drawing more and more masks. I can’t say specifically why, but my sketching has just kept going this way, and I am running with it.
On the one hand I can say that my continuing obsession with Maya and Mesomerican design is certainly at a root of this. The Maya used masks for all kinds of ceremonial and theatrical practices. Masks are often believed to be representations of specific gods or spirits. And in some readings I came across, the masks are even themselves thought to have possibly been treated as god themselves.
I like this last idea. The object, the image becoming the thing. The represented image and the plastic image itself are one thing.
So, perhaps, I am drawing my own little parade of gods and goddesses. A god of warm blankets? The goddess of chamomile? Or a solemn protector god who might drive away drafts from old windows.
I’ve read too that in certain games of pitz masks were worn by players or combatants as a way to intimidate opponents, and as part of the ceremonial dress of the game. I like this idea of reshaping the contestants of a game in creatures. I’ve seen that many hockey goaltenders – the most masked of professional athletes – paint up there masks as creatures as well. Of course much of there designs tend to bore me, a bit too much like an air-brushed van from the 80’s for my taste.
Still the idea of seeing more pro athletes designing there own masks or facepaint before they go a field intrigues me. Would certainly make the expressions more interesting.
I’m also quite enamored with the masks of Noh Theater as well. The masks used in Noh productions tend to be much more subtle, less god and goddess than emotion or mood. Though there are many types of masks in Noh, and those that most appeal to me are those refered to as Kishin or Onryou, These are masks of demons and ghosts respectively. They are considered an older style of Noh mask, more a product of the religious origins of the theater.
The more I think of masks the more I find myself loving all the ideas and possibilities they represent. I imagine I could find a lot of origins for me drawing them in my past. I don’t need to look any further than my daughter and all the masks she makes and wears. She seems especially taken with monsters as well. Perhaps this just runs in the human family.
Something must be said for the paper I’m working on as well. An inexpensive Copic branded book designed for drawing with markers. I decided to pick it up a while back and since I have started using it, I’ve made little more than masks in it. I’m not much of a Copic person, as I’ve always preferred Neo-Piko – the 1st art marker I ever fell for. They’re also significantly cheaper.
I started drawing with markers on the Japanese brand Muse’s Kent paper while I lived in Japan. I never drew masks on that though. I picked up the Copic book hoping it would be similar. It wasn’t at all.
Something about this new pad though led me down this path. The kind of magic of materials that alters your perceptions and brings you to a certain place with your mind and hands.
No less magical than wearing a mask and finding yourself transformed in to some new person or being.