|12/31/12 fountain pen, custom-mix ink, S&B Epsilon|
When I first started drawing in autumn 2011, I boldly and ambitiously decided to work on portraits based on photos. (I have a huge collection of old family photos that I spent months digitizing a few years ago, so I had no shortage of inspiring source material.) Below is one portrait I sketched of a photo that was taken of my father in the late ‘30s around the time my parents got married. Although I’d say it’s not a bad portrait, I was disappointed that it neither reproduced the photo accurately, nor (more importantly) did it capture what I’d call the essence of my father. I tried a few more sketches like this from other old photos, but I kept being disappointed in the same way, so I stopped.
Last night as I was waiting for Greg to finish up a home improvement task so that we could open the champagne and get on with our New Year’s Eve revelry (and by that I mean watching episodes of “Boardwalk Empire” and getting to bed by 10 p.m.), I was surfing through the Urban Sketchers group on Flickr. I came across an evocative sketch by Madame Ink, an artist I admire, that was based on a vintage family photo. In the comments, she posted the following suggestions:
“Try using a tool that forces you to be interpretive would be my advice – so you are not trying to generate photographic looking results. I like the Neocolor II crayons and the Pentel pocket brush pen for this reason: they are broad tools. An expressive result is my goal – something other than the reference – a filtered result if you will.”
I’m going to try more of these portrait sketches using broader tools as Madame Ink recommends.