Skin, our largest organ, is a beautiful, delicate envelope that shrouds an internal sweatshop. In the dark ages when I grew up, humanity braved the elements without sun protection ergo, an X number of years later, our membranes are decorated with a profusion of brown spots, crevasses, lumps, bumps and funky folds. 

My mother's was like transparent rice paper. Muscle loss meant that it hung and creased in unexpected places. Incredibly fragile, the translucent surface blotched purple at the slightest brush with a hard object and took forever to reclaim its original hue. Veins protruded to create an exotic topography worthy of any science fiction movie.

I must admit that my aesthetic appreciation of aging skin is being fed by my own metamorphosis into an alien being. I am a firm believer in aging gracefully although the mirror makes it awfully difficult to sustain this level of denial.

Curiously, wrinkly skin on other creatures is often considered a splendiferous attribute. Wrinkly Shar-pei dogs are cute despite looking odd. Who knew that descendants of the wolf could end up looking like a pile of twisted rope? And what about the Sphynx cat?  Hypnotizing! The list of wrinkled animals is extensive, just to name a few...mole rats, turtles, rhinos, pigs, merino sheep, and of course, elephants

I recently drew part of a craggy pachyderm in a work called "Chickaboom". What a challenge to get the desired effect using Caran d'Ache Neocolor II crayons, but I managed. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these crayons, each is about the size of a skinny little finger. Difficult to sharpen, the waxy sticks quickly revert to a dull point but are nonetheless extremely flexible due to their water soluble properties. Available in a multitude of colours, I often simply use black because the effects I obtain are reminiscent of charcoal without dust and messiness. With Caran d'Ache, one need only grab a wet brush or rag to drag deep blacks into rich grays. 

Part of "Chickaboom"

My initial idea for the fragment above was to use the elephant as a visual metaphor for a CPAP machine. I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and had to invest in this contraption. When I attach the "Positive Airway Pressure" mask to my head (medieval torture devices come to mind), a six-foot length of tube protrudes from my nose. Connected to a "magic" box, it helps me breathe as I sleep. I become an elephant/humanoid hybrid. 

This takes some getting used to. Add aging polka-dotted skin to the mix and include body bits that overlap other bits. Furrows and rolls deepen as more lines seem to pop out of nowhere. Life always provides an overflowing basket of challenges.

Acceptance of change requires a new mindset right? A reboot of sorts? Who knows! Maybe I'lI turn into a magnificent wrinkled Sphinx! Then again, there might be a fissure in my delusion.


  1. If beauty is skin deep, then an overabundance of it as we age - and given our fixed skeleton size it can only fold as it droops - means we are becoming more beautiful!


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