Drawing can be about so much more than just appearances. What we choose to draw can be about what we'd like to investigate, or wonder about. A page can hold feelings as well as ink.
Consider the new series I've started. In tandem with some genealogy I've been doing, I've dedicated myself to finding through my records, all the places that my ancestors lived. Fortunately, the houses are easy for me to find and to visit. I live not too far from where my immigrant great-grandparents settled.
This was the home in Providence, Rhode Island, of Michael and Theresa Lynch in 1905. My grandfather was nine years old at the time, and they lived in the left side of the house. The cobblestone on this street is rare for the city and it helps me to imagine what it was like back then.
What I can't imagine is how tough it was for that family. They were poor. Irish immigrant Michael would be killed in a construction accident seven years later. Theresa was left with five children under ten years old to care for. She had lost three in infancy. There were no relatives in town to help. Before long, my grandfather had left school and started working in a local factory. Then he was off to war in Europe, where he was shot in the leg and earned himself a medal of bravery. None of these things were ever discussed by him. Ever.
As I leisurely sat and drew on that spring day, I remember how taciturn my grandfather was. He was, to me, grouchy and hard to approach. He was frugal too. But, it all makes sense now. He was a surviver. He made a good life for himself, but he's long gone now.
I drove to the other addresses connected with this family, but all the houses are now gone. They weren't upgraded—they were taken down. The neighborhoods are still poor, still sheltering immigrants. Only this haggard house survives.
I can't go back and talk to my ancestors, but I can picture them a bit through drawing.