Self-Portrait No. 45 (Detail)

(above) Self-Portrait No. 45 (detail)

I’m not sure whether I’m being lazy or efficient today, as I polished off both No. 45 and No. 46 by 1pm. Hopefully I was being efficient; I’m constantly striving for efficiency in all parts of my life.  After I complete any task, anything from a simple task like chopping a tomato to a more complex one like organizing my course syllabi, I find myself compulsively analyzing in my head how I could do it again, but better.  I’m constantly formulating strategies in my mind to prepare for the next time I do something so that I’m prepared and ready to take care of any glitches that happened the first time through.

My drawing technique especially is something that I’m always trying to improve upon with every mark I make. As I’ve discussed in the past, I’m relying more and more on the etching ink work to carry the piece which means less time and labor with the lithographic crayon and exacto knife.   I’m definitely pickier about what areas I choose to add detail to, which overall gives the portrait a more spontaneous look. I think the sheer quantity of portraits in this project has forced me to become quicker and more efficient, I feel that there is a momentum and pace that I have to keep up to maintain the energy that I’m looking for. I worry that if I linger for too long on any image that the project slows down and I lose that freshness of the marks that I want to achieve. After working on this series, it’s become clear to me that I get motivated by quantity and a high turnover rate; I’m not someone who can labor over an image or two for months at a time. I like the feeling of being productive and seeing fast results, and a high quantity of images is definitely one way to satisfy that need.

Self-Portrait No. 45
(above) Self-Portrait No. 45

Self-Portrait No. 46
(above) Self-Portrait No. 46

2 thoughts on “Efficiency

  1. I’d like to hear a bit about the nuts and bolts of your technique.
    What exactly are the technical advantages of working on acetate (or that acetate alternative product)? Tell me if my surmise is close:

    I’m guessing the slick surface combined with the waxy litho crayon enables you to get both the etching-like hatchwork and the oil pastel-like smearing effects you seem to be after?

    Perhaps you also like that the transparent surface presumably allows you to trace over photographs* or earlier “drafts” of your own making, or even to combine composite layers into a single one?

    *It’s obvious from your skill that you wouldn’t *need* to trace over photographs, I only mean to suggest you might do this to save time, or overcome the dis-inspiration of a blank page by establishing a few basic lines from which to depart and embellish.

  2. Here’s the process: 1) scuff up the Dura-Lar with coarse sandpaper. 2) sketch a general outline with vine charcoal. (no projections or tracing involved) 3) smear etching ink onto the Dura-Lar with my hands. 4) allow the etching ink to dry. 5) draw into the etching ink with lithographic crayon. 6) scratch lines into the etching ink with an exacto knife.

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