Thursday, March 9, 2017

Yearbook Photos Call to Me Once Again

Behind the scenes here at Lost Coast Post, life continues to roil with uncertainty and anxiety and lots of waiting...forever waiting it seems. I am finding solace in good, old-fashioned drawing and painting. There is something about the simplicity of supplies and technique that is soothing and absorbing. Mixed media often requires so much preliminary hunting & gathering that I am exhausted and uninspired by the time I actually sit down to create something. On the other hand, the colored pencils are ready to go, right at my table; all I need do is grab a sketchbook, maybe a reference photo, and get to work.

I have begun experimenting with toned paper; all the portraits in this post are created in a spiral-bound Strathmore Toned Tan sketchbook. The paper isn't as heavy as I usually prefer but I remind myself that I am just playing around and try to overlook the slight warp that occurs when I use wet media. And in truth, a short time under a few heavy books is all that's needed to flatten the pages back out again.

Toned paper is lovely in that it allows you to begin in the middle of values. Instead of starting with a stark white background and having to save the highlights and build endlessly up to the dark values, toned paper (in various shades of tan and gray) gives you a head start. I add layers of white to build into the lightest values and conversely, build up my dark values from the middle tone provided by the paper.

In this sketchbook, I am just fooling around with a wide variety of portrait techniques: scribbled pencil, pen & ink (water-soluble or not,) quickie renderings and characters more carefully developed. As I share these drawings, you'll note lots of out-of-proportion features; I seem to have particular difficulty with chins and if teeth are showing....well, things can get a bit awkward. I love them all. I used to be so uptight about drawing people but since I've been working from vintage yearbook photos, I have fallen deeply in love with my portraits and I embrace every crooked tooth and uneven eyeball. You can see more of my yearbook portrait work here, here, and here. Looking through my posts, I can see that this is a subject that is withstanding the test of time. I can also see that whenever I am feeling at loose ends - creatively or physically - these characters from the past are on standby, waiting patiently for their day in the studio and their debut in my art.

Note: I used a photo found on Pinterest for that first drawing of a cute blonde with purple glasses and while I like her, she just doesn't have the same appeal to me as the drawings done from old yearbooks. I think those old black and white pictures allow for much more interpretation and creativity than modern photos. I get to pick the skin tone, patterning and coloring of the clothes, and I feel more inspired to modify hairstyles, poses, and facial features. After I completed that first drawing, I went back to my voluminous stack of yearbook photos and felt back at home with old friends almost immediately.

4 comments:

Özge Başağaç said...

Seeing the yearbook photos again reminded me of your last show back in October. (you started with yearbook photos and transformed into mystical portraits) How did it go in the end? Did you include the portraits,too, or was it only the assembled works? I hope you are feeling much better Michelle. Spring is just around the corner. Hope it will cheer us all :)

Anonymous said...

I could look at your portraits all day! Those quirky features just make me smile. And I'm glad to get Purple Girl's back story because she is adorable, but clearly not one of the rest of the gang.

Also, I got my pouches from Society 6 yesterday! They are terrific (super well made!) and your artwork on them is just awesome.

-Ellie

Claudia MB said...

I have several old yearbooks in my stash. I use them as a source for collage, but you have inspired me to try using the portraits as inspiration for painting/drawing!

Loulou in Texas said...

Gosh, these yearbook characters are so full of life! I enjoyed using the links to see your past yearbook picture posts, and I can see why you keep coming back to drawing them.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...