Amy June Bates
acrylic on canvas
drawing and colored pencils, custom notepad, eraser, pencil sharpener
In a painting by illustrator and artist Amy June Bates, a figure with gently mottled face and hands turns her head, closes her eyes, as her shoulders slump forward over her lap. In this unselfconscious, almost vulnerable pose, we understand this woman’s weariness as an echo of the ceaselessness of this year, the larger anxieties that loom, the tasks left unfinished. We have a deep, sympathetic knowing of her exhaustion, and yet, there is beauty and dynamism in the areas of seeming unfinish in the painting. Bates leaves the expressive, gestural marks of her paintbrush visible, and these traces of her process offer a sense of both kinetic and potential energy; we imagine the touch of Bates’s hand and the imagined movement of her sitter. The viewers are asked to complete the portrait in their minds’ eye – to consider the assured lines of the woman’s body amid the expanse of white ground behind her. In other words, Bates draws us into this intimate and seemingly brief moment of repose, as well as into her own active artistic process.
The Drawing Kit invites us not just to consider this painting in progress, but also, with all the tools necessary (pencils, eraser, and notepad illustrated by Amy June Bates), to sketch on our own, to record the moments when we too might have a chance to pause, to rest, and to look ahead.
Amy June Bates is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed illustrator, writer, and artist and has published over 50 books. Most recently, she has written and illustrated When I Draw a Panda (Simon and Schuster, 2020); this book (available for purchase at the Whistlestop Bookshop) similarly encourages intuitive, creative artmaking without constraints.