After my first visit to Alice Neel’s show, “People Come First” at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco, I knew I had to go back for more. On my second visit, I took along a little Midori notebook and some pencils. The idea was to draw as I went along because drawing helps me see and understand things in different ways than looking does.
Here are all the little sketches in my book at the end of a couple of hours. They in no way capture Neel’s draftsmanship, or more importantly, the power of being in a room surrounded by her people, all looking at you. The gaze she captures, I have no words for. But I am also fascinated by her emotive use of proportions, her hands, her colors, and by the people she chooses to draw.
If you can visit the show, don’t miss it. But if you can’t get to it, there is a lovely catalog of the pieces available for purchase.