For a change of work pace, I went back into No. 15 and No. 16, the first time that I’ve gone back to old pieces in this series. Usually my mindset is to move on or do another one, but I knew that these two portraits had redeeming qualities so I didn’t want to start them again. Specifically, I wanted to see if I could get rid of the black backgrounds. At the time I wasn’t thinking about it, but now that I’ve had some distance the inconsistency of having black backgrounds in these two portraits bothers me. (all of the other portraits have white backgrounds) I do also think that with the white backgrounds that the drawings can “breathe” better. So I went at the backgrounds with a mat knife and a bunch of razorblades, fiercely scraping away at the caked on etching ink. It was time consuming and tough on my fingers, but in the end I was able to achieve a nearly clean surface again which is what I was looking to do.
I also finished up a redo of No. 5, I”m particularly happy with the whiteness of the eyes. When you work in black and white it’s always hard to show “color” in a black and white image. I find that it’s critical to keep making comparisons between tonal areas, asking yourself which area is lighter or darker and to understand the relationships between the tones rather than the individual tones themselves. I think in this case I was able to capture the white color of the eyes against the darkness of the skin.
(above) Self-Portrait No. 5, redo