I’ve been working on an exhibition I curated at the Jewett Gallery at Wellesley College for the past two weeks, so today was the first day I was back to these portraits. Every time that I’m away from the work for longer than two weeks I get anxious about returning to the work, worrying that I won’t know how to pick up from where I left off, or that I will have lost my momentum. This time I was really itching to get back to the work process, so working yesterday and today felt great.
I have three in progress right now, numbers 37, 38, and 39. I elected to go out of order and work on no. 39 because I knew it would be a challenging piece and a good way to whip myself back into shape. The photo reference I had for this portrait was less than ideal, so I had to really push myself to constantly think about the form as I was working on the drawing. When your initial reference is lacking you have to work so much harder to achieve the results you’re looking for, and sometimes the reference is so poor that you just can’t salvage it. In this case, I had just enough detail that I knew where to fill in the blanks. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this piece; I was initially intimidated by how critical the hands were to the composition, and I worried about whether I could pull off the effect of cast shadows on the forehead, but I think both areas ended up working just fine.