I wonder if the likes of Van Gogh, Michelangelo, da Vinci and Rembrandt all early-on in their lives asked the question: “Mom. How do you draw a nose?”
Kandinsky, Munch, Dali and Jackson Pollock?
I’m guessing — not so much.
Last Christmas, I joined the ranks of Julius Caesar, John the Baptist, Mona Lisa and that cute little Dutch girl with the pearl earring. My Secret Santa in the family drawing was my beloved nephew-like substance, Ed Thiele. “Coastal” Eddie painted a portrait of me. It’s one of my prized possessions and hangs revered in my office. I was talking with Coastal’s mom, my sister-like substance Leslie “Lesbie” Ann Somethingorother the other day. So far, she ain’t. Leslie shared a story that forever melted my heart.
You see, it’s not like her son Eddie is in fourth grade. He’s not in prison, forced to hand-paint license plates in gold leaf for elected officials, nor is Coastal on Death Row, sorting out last-minute psychological issues. Eddie’s not enjoying extended rehab, rebuilding his or someone else’s nervous system after an alp mishap.
Bounce-bounce-bounce ouch bounce, scream, bounce, denial, bounce, bounce, bounce ooooch, ouch, geez, help, ouch, bounce-bounce-bounce ow cripes my coccyx, ouch, bounce.
Coastal’s a successful Chicago lawyer in his 30s. Out of his busy schedule of begging a 7th District judge to please not send Jussie Smollett to the chair for being a complete D-bag Donkey Girl Scout, My Coastal took the time to paint a portrait of me in my finest Western regalia. It’s a version of my Signal column mug (refer above). I’m prejudiced. But I think Ed’s added decades to my frowning countenance while saving a fortune in black paint by not drawing in frowns and wrinkles, which are not my best features.
His mom, Do-Less, aka, “Lesbie-Ann,” although as of the last census, she wasn’t, said her middle son (No. 3 of 14) called in mid-brush stroke to ask: “Mom. How do you paint a nose?”
The possible answers his mother/my best pal could have offered are mind-bending.
How DO you paint a nose?
1) “¿¿¡¡Con gusto!!??”
B) “Three coats and primer, applied with a roller?”
ii) “Easy on the feathers?”
XVMI) “Keep it way away from the butt — unless, of course, you’re Picasso?”
I’m confident my angel-like family member LA-LA advised: “Less is more. Eddie. Remember. Our Uncle John is neither elephant nor Armenian.”
My hat’s off to Ed. Except for the occasional game of Hangman, I can’t draw human suffering. Can’t sketch a lazy Spring Parisian afternoon, a recognizable nipple or the Spanish Revolution. If I set out to draw a fetching female nude, it’s going to end up mistaken for a fire hydrant, yellow and looking like one of those little happy Lego men. My art skills are nada. The closest I can come to drawing a nose is typing the letter, “J.”
And hopefully, the nose isn’t facing West.
Hit the colon key.
See? I can’t even properly type a nostril because you have to turn your head sideways to get the full effect, although, as a sidebar, I’d like to point out “Nostrils” seems like a great name for a character in a lesser Cervantes novel.
“For three long months during the unforgiving anvil of summer, Corporal Nostrils trudged across the Great Spanish Plain, when, all of a sudden, he was thirsty. Exhausted, Nostrils stumbled into the cantina and ordered wine. Being Latvian, red, white, Welch’s, rosé, it didn’t matter as Corporal Nostrils was a dullard.”
So. How DO you draw a nose?
There’s an infinity of choices how NOT to draw a nose, especially when you’re attaching it to a rugged American countenance like mine. I’m most grateful Eddie didn’t use artistic license and add the accoutrement of his hepcat daddy generation — the nose ring, or, something more Borneoean like a human leg bone and especially like a human 6-pound soup bone. Thus encumbered, my portrait would have trouble slipping into T-shirts. I’m grateful I didn’t end up looking like Pelosi.
The haggard and witch-like evil Speaker of the House.
Not the so-so Bronx featherweight from the 1930s.
I’m glad my nephew-like substance Coastal Eddie didn’t give me a puppy nose. Puppy noses look good on puppies. They don’t look good on humans.
Ask our neighboring congressman/dolt from Glendale, Adam Schiff (D).
Likewise, I’m glad The Coast didn’t go the Voldemort route. The übervillain from Harry Potter didn’t have a nose, which I guess means he saved on sunscreen.
Whatever Leslie told her son, I think her advice worked. I like my nose, both the corporeal one that keeps my reading glasses from cascading onto my chiseled chin or the noble appendage in Coastal’s portrait.
My nose is not Homeric, like Cyrano’s.
It’s not minimalist, like Betty Boop’s.
Art critics in centuries hence shall write: “In his masterful ‘Portrait of John Boston’s Nose & Other Facial Stuff,’ ‘Coastal’ Eddie Thiele has captured an effortless, zen-like perfection and regal sniffer. Amen and boy howdy…”
John Boston is the most prolific humorist and satirist in world history — with a nose for news.