A Clear Mind

Self-Portrait No. 50 (detail)

(above) Self-Portrait No. 50 (detail)

I took some time for vacation over the past week, which for me is a rarity.  It sounds ridiculous, but I was actually stressed out at first about taking a vacation; I worried that if I was away from the self-portraits for too long that I would lose my momentum, forget what I was doing and loose the fluidity that I had been starting to gain in my drawing process. Time away turned out to be wonderful, and I came back into the studio today really well rested and refreshed. Contrary to my earlier concerns, I picked up right where I left off and was able to finish a redo of No. 10 and No. 50.  (no, I’m nowhere near finished, I’m working on the self-portraits out of order)

Self-Portrait No. 50

(above) Self-Portrait No. 50

I actually left a lot of the etching ink of No. 50 untouched; the nose has some articulation with cross hatching, but I largely focused on the eyes to get tons of detail involved.  Most of the area around the mouth is exclusively etching ink.  I enjoy this balance of details versus less articulated areas, and have been thinking about how to get them to contrast yet work together at the same time. People always seem to think that the details are the most difficult part of the image; for me it’s actually the opposite. Details are so straightforward in that you carry them as far as you can and there’s a certain goal in mind.  I find the less articulated areas really tough to call: left too muddled the areas can come across as sloppy and unfinished.  Yet there’s that magical balance you can hit where the areas are on the verge of being unfinished but hold an assertiveness and place in the piece that is absolutely vital to the entire work.

Someone who I think balanced detail masterfully was John Singer Sargent.  In some areas of his paintings the detail is so visually striking and tight, but in others the paint dissolves into muddled areas. In this painting below the eyes of the child in the foreground are full of lively details and yet when you see in the rug in person and look at it on it’s own, the rug is actually very crude and primitive by comparison.

(above) John Singer Sargent’s Daughters of Edward Darley Boit

Self-Portrait No. 10, redo

(above) Self-Portrait No. 10, redo

I’m pretty satisfied with this redo of No. 10.  Out of all of the portraits, this one is probably the most complimentary to my model, so it sticks out as a distinctive work in the body of pieces.


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