Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nude self-portrait progress

Since I wrote the post about drawing a nude self-portrait, I've had a lot of input about doing it.  It was already in progress - I'd chosen the photo from among those Chris took of me quite some time ago.  When he took them, I had a great deal of trouble looking at them because - well - because...  it was hard to look at myself nude!  Time passed, and when I went back to them, I found that a couple were actually quite beautiful from an artistic point of view.  I chose one, printed it out, gridded it, prepared the canvas, drew the image onto it, then, finally, began to draw it.  I have chosen to draw in pastel on canvas again like I did with Dora because I really like how that feels.  I'm working on canvases with another painting under them, so there is lots of texture - so much, in fact, that sometimes it's difficult to get the pastel to get into the cracks.  If I chose to blend the pigments, I could get into the cracks, but I'm instead leaving it as is, so the texture is a strong component of the piece.

Yesterday I'd gotten as far as I could with it, so I employed a strategy which I find very helpful at times - I turned it upside down.  Here's the rationale - most of us draw things the way we think they look, not how they actually look.  If I turn the canvas and the photograph upside down, I get disoriented and can no longer really draw the object how I think it's supposed to look.  Instead I have to examine the picture more closely and draw what I'm really seeing.  It helps me draw faces and hands and other very complicated passages much more effectively and accurately.   When I turn it back right side up, it's almost always a much better picture than it was beforehand.  It's a very helpful technique and one I  highly recommend if you're interested in portraying something accurately from a photograph.

Perhaps you can find inaccuracies in the image here.  I can see a couple of issues with color which I need to address, but overall I think my face and body are accurate.  Working with it upside down definitely helped me get the hands right and the face.

Now I'll need to spray it with workable fixative then do a bit more work to it, then I think I'll call it done.  (To my students - I know I rant about fixatives and that I never use them because they change the color and the texture.  That is still true - but I'm aware that because I'm working on very textured canvas, I simply don't have a choice but to fix it, so I've just decided that I'm OK with the changes the fixative have wrought - serendipity at play.  Or whatever...  a different element to consider, at any rate.  I've gotten the best fixative I can - Schminke - and use it outdoors so I don't asphixiate myself.  We'll see what happens!)

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