26 February 2014

Portraiture course, week 6

This was the week of the "personal project". I got it in my head that my starting point was to be my "The Seeing I" book, so I took in various old photos and chose these to work with -
roughing them into a composition with 6B graphite, and going from there ...
Half way through the class, some details are emerging, and I've switched to a 4B pencil -
At the end of the class, everyone is there ... but not looking at all like the selves in the photos! -
Fraught with memory, these photos are. As for the child, I recognise her only from the photos - apart from the one with the plaid bow, a bow that got lost on that expedition to Hannover zoo - I do remember the hoo-hah of going to look for it (probably at my insistence), but don't remember if it was found ...

This was a lot to undertake in less than three hours, and I didn't have time to put in the ink in the spaces between the vignettes, which hopefully would pull it all together. Plus the composition needs reconsidering (size and placement of figures). My grandmother in her elegant hat (top right) came out rather badly and the central girl with the big white bow is simply all wrong, even though she probably looks the most acceptable of the lot.

As the tutor suggested, this is something I could continue to work on at home ... and I might do that, perhaps by starting again. (At least I'm finding it easier to get the faces into proportion by now.)

This exercise takes me back to the question of "what makes a person look like themself" ... and what makes expressions recognisable?

Further reflections

On hearing from a friend that a portraiture course was her idea of hell, I had yet again to reconsider why I'm voluntarily putting myself through what is in truth fairly agonising. Yes yes, it's partly about "the challenge"...

I did get immersed in the drawing-from-photos, and might go back to this project, drawing from family photos. (It helps that they're 2D and monochrome - but of course there's not the liveliness of having a real person in front of you. And yet ... they do help you to remember these real people...)

In particular, and for all sorts of reasons, I'm drawn to the photo of my grandmother with all her children in 1945, the war very much an unseen presence -

So many of the pix of Oma (1888-1988) would be interesting to draw - possibly because of the details in the old photos that you see only if you pay really close, sustained attention ... and what better way to do that than drawing?

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