Let’s Get Personal

by Alden Cole on February 21, 2015 · 0 comments

“Illusion is the first of all pleasures.” – Voltaire (1694-1778)

CartooningWP1962: as a budding teenage artist – cartoonist wannabe – there were lots of options in terms of who to imitate. A Walter T. Foster How to Draw… book on cartooning introduced me to the ease of imitating Disney-style cartoons, as shown in the drawing at left on ruled notebook paper; free-hand pencil sketches of Pluto, Donald and Daisy Duck, plus a chipmunk’s head. The drawing is unique. If I made more, they’re long gone and definitely forgotten. It wasn’t a direction I had any real interest in pursuing. The daily cartoon strips in the Portland Press Herald that initially caught my eye, and inspired imitation, were the realistically drawn ones: Steve Canyon, Mark Trail, Mary Worth. The truly ‘comic’ cartoons like Pogo, Lil Abner, Dagwood never really caught my eye or captured my imagination. A favorite representational strip was Prince Valiant which the Portland papers did not syndicate. The Boston papers did however, so I got familiar with – enamored with even – the Prince through the Sunday editions available at my grandparents home. There was an element of sensuality to the Prince Valiant strip that was missing in the other cartoon strips I admired; that sensuality became more and more evident in my own drawings throughout senior year. The Prince was ultimately the inspiration for those males that started appearing, paired with my paper-doll princesses; those couples featured recently dating, dancing, making out, getting married, honeymooning on the beach. While my peers were experiencing first-hand the time-specific mating rituals of the early 60s, I was manifesting a sublimated version through art. I was learning to do the Twist to the tune of The Great Pretender. There was a major conflict between who I was and who I wanted to be. Little did I know this was just the beginning of what has turned out to be a very interesting life.

IllusionsofArtistryWPIllusions of Artistry: Now & Then. One particular drawing from high school that deserves attention was featured a year ago at the beginning of this history – the “Then” drawing in the diptych at left. Drawn sometime in the winter of ’62 after receiving my acceptance to RISD, it was my idea at the time of what I thought an artist did – an early illusion about artistry. The irony was that I wanted to be the model, not the artist, although I was not consciously aware of that at the time. Forty-two years later I combined that early drawing with a more honest assessment indicating a “Now” illusion about the artistic process.

FlirtingCouplesWPFlirtation: the two drawings at left are the last of my teen drawings featured in this ongoing Story of My Life as revealed by art I’ve produced, an exceptionally accurate indicator of internal states-of-mind over the years. These drawings are essential Alden, indicating a growing fascination that would mature into an erotic sensibility, indicators that my true calling was probably as an illustrator of Harlequin Romance book covers. 🙂 Where this obsession with the human form has taken me, with bodies in- and out-of clothes, has only begun to be revealed through this technological marvel of which I had no conception as a senior in high school. I was a naif coming of age, about to go off to Providence RI in search of a career totally other than what I had considered as my future – to become an artist rather than a math wiz…

LatinClub4WPRoman Holiday? Shades of Yesterday en recherche du temps perdu. At left, two photos which I took at our Latin Club’s Roman Banquet in the spring of 1961. Little did I know what harbingers of the future such harmless folderall presaged. Hold onto your togas, friends! It’s about to get a little windy!
Am I Blue? Absolutely, and if you’re interested in getting a better glimpse at just how Blue I am, let me know and I’ll add your name to a list of those to whom I’ll occasionally send special-edition emails – my Blue Review – highlighting the erotic work from my own personal Blue Period – a life-long experience. The erotic was present in my work from the beginning. I can still remember my friend Terry Critchley and myself challenging each other to draw what we though mature adults looked like naked; Terry didn’t arise to the challenge, but I did. Unfortunately those very tame but hot little drawings didn’t survive, but I can still remember how exciting was the experience of drawing them. Most artists have these ‘secret’ artworks – their understanding of Erotica, of what makes them HOT. I’m no exception; intuitive new friends who are only familiar with my recent public work have been asking pertinent questions: “What other kind of work do you do besides pleasant landscapes, decorative art lamps, and photographs of your garden and skyline?” Now it’s time to share that work with interested friends. Let me know if you’re up for it…

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