Yesterday I sat in on a drawing workshop David Bailin is doing at Pulaski Tech. It's a 9 to 5 thing, so I thought it would be a chance to do some serious drawing. Jennifer (the model for my "Angry Birds" and "Psyche") was modeling. My muse was not singing, this was just for exercise. In the morning session I did a drawing that really sucked and I wished I hadn't come. But after lunch I got into that intense mode of observation where the pencil seems to move on its own, discovering new worlds in the slightest contour of flesh.

David had this strange idea of having Jennifer hold a pair of deer's antlers on her head. He said I had inspired him to do this. I had no idea what he meant at the time, but it just occurred to me he may have been thinking of this painting from 1991:

The Pool, 1991, oil on linen, 72 x 48 inches

A Dryad in the Headlights, 6/5/12, graphite &
chalk on green laid paper, 22 x 12 inches

 But this was Acteon, the peeping tom Diana turned into a stag and killed. That's why he has antlers. Does do not usually have antlers. "On rare occasions whitetail does can develop antlers. This is most likely due to an abnormally high level of testosterone." (Wikipedia) So unless David meant to imply that our subject was really horny, the antlers made no sense. But to humor him I drew the damn antlers, and then I thought for a minute that she could be a Valkyrie!--but no. No way could I imagine Jennifer singing "Hojotoho!" And besides, Vakyries have horns, not antlers.

So I liked the drawing--the stark lighting, the subtle contours, the fading out at the top--but the narrative concept was bugging me all night. This morning when I walked into the studio and looked at the drawing the muse finally sang:

"She's a dryad, you moron."

Of course! A tree nymph, too young to be afraid of cars, has wandered out of Ovid and onto the highway! So I replaced the antlers with branches, added some trees, and voila!-"A Dryad in the Headlights." Now I like it better.

I write all this because it's another example of how a work of art, unbidden, uninspired and unexpected, can sometimes materialize like a genie out of a bottle, even a bottle labeled "Drawing Workshop."

Warren Criswell

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