Thursday, January 12, 2023

Library as Portrait


1/5/23 Green Lake Library

After picking up a book at the Seattle Public Library’s Green Lake Branch, I walked across the street and sketched the stately Carnegie building. I’ve sketched it numerous times from the same spot.

In my early years of sketching, I used that convenient building as a test of my architectural perspective skills. Sometimes spending as long as an hour carefully measuring angles and lines, I tried my best to be as accurate as possible. When I sketched it about a year ago, I didn’t measure at all because accuracy was not a goal; speed was (I finished in nine minutes). It became a favorite in the series for its freshness.

For the sketch above, I took 12 minutes, and again, accuracy was not a goal. The longer I sketch, the less perspectival accuracy matters to me compared to capturing a fresh impression of the moment.

With my recent interest in portraiture, I started wondering if that’s how I would eventually feel about resemblance? Initially, capturing a likeness of the model seemed all-important: If I don’t make resemblance at least a partial goal, what is the point of drawing a model or photo reference? I might as well draw any face from imagination. Even when I push myself to exaggerate or make a caricature, I am still trying to capture something of the person’s expression, if not an exact likeness. I am not yet at the point where capturing a facial gesture is more important than capturing a resemblance. Maybe someday I’ll get there with faces as I did with the library.

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