By the time we reach the ripe age of ten years or so, I think we have attained the pinnacle of our skills in a couple of areas that come to mind, namely in swimming and in drawing. You could analyze the swimming skill of a forty year old, and for most people it has not advanced past what they were capable of doing when they were ten years old (think “Marco Polo”). By the same token our ability to draw suffers a similar arrested development. So as adults we still draw as we did as pre-pubescents. As a
case in point, I submit this picture, drawn by me at the age of fifty five years. As my interest in Lake Siljan has grown, I quickly saw the form of a cat in the lake, and without too much imagination I could see that in fact a fish had latched onto the back of the cat. Within a few strokes, I’d exhausted my drawing skills, but I had managed to document this idea, and pass it on to my nephew, Jesse, a twenty one year old from Portland, Oregon.
Much like I have applied myself to swimming in my post-ten-year-old life, Jesse has applied himself to drawing. Through a series of emails and phone calls, I conveyed some ideas to him about my intent to swim across a Swedish lake. Some of the topics that came up were: chimeras, the words of Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin, Nordic mythology, signets, salitter, Odin and his ravens, the Dala horse, atavism, Major Tom, and images such as these (aurora borealis, swirling bats):
As an aside, let me say that Jesse’s grandfather, Verne, was a lifelong swimmer, and it happens that Verne was instrumental in providing me a glimpse of ocean swimming, and the fundamental desirability and beauty of this sport. And thus one day, at the age of 23, I stubbed out a cigarette in the sands of Laguna Beach, and followed him, his son Mark, and my brother Steve (Jesse’s father) into the Pacific Ocean, for my first ocean swim. And so….I was set on a path thirty two years ago that I continue along even today.
Anyway, Jesse has shown a unique ability to gather the themes of our conversations and emails, and incarnate them into forms (drawings) that have sublimated my initial concepts and thoughts, as I’ve pondered the swimming of Lake Siljan. Below is an incomplete gallery of some of the results of his applying pen to paper (click an image for slideshow)…
(More of Jesse’s work is on flickr.)