On my way home from teaching at ESDIP Berlin I saw these badass skater girls.
I sat across from them on the U1 and politely asked if I could draw them, as I’ve learned to in Germany. But they were American, and it was totally fine with them! Turned out they were from the Bay Area, specifically all San Francisco born and raised.
“From inside the 7×7”, they told me, just as I always make it clear that I was born on Manhattan island.
I had just a few stops to draw them, so I finished a lot of the detail later. However, it is totally accurate that the stickers on their boards were all dogged out from grinding copings. I don’t think these vital, modern young women were riding fat old-school Kryptonics wheels; that’s just what skateboard wheels look like, to me. I loved that they had big wide decks.
My best friend in high school was a skater girl, in 1981, and she rode what she called a “rolling stage”.
I showed this to Daria while we were having some lovely cake in my kiez and she said she liked the right-hand girls much better, with their casual sketchy hands. She said the hands of the left-most girl were overworked. Too much information.
“You’re so strong in technical skills, in understanding the structure of the hand, you get caught up showing too much.”
She was right, of course. The most interesting and powerful thing about the whole scene to me was the way the girl on the left cupped her hands over the nose of her board, like it was the pommel of a saddle.
And by drawing every detail of her fingers, instead of leaving some space open, I’d made her hands pedantic and overdrawn.
I had lost the shock of her dark nails against her pale skin by adding too much black line detail.
If I were drawing this for reproduction, I would have changed it, as I did when Daria suggested I give the Three Ages of Woman more space around them. Instead, I restored some of the drama and focus I’d intended by making the left-hand girl’s shirt black. Interestingly, Daria didn’t make the same criticism about space with this drawing- I think she understood that the fact the girls fill the frame is meant to create a sense of intimacy and immediacy.
I wanted to show I was occupying the same space, briefly, as these fearless young women.