Smelling the Roses

I’ve started to see some rewards for my focus on charcoal drawing lately; I have figured out what my tools are and how to manipulate them to achieve a desired effect (more on those tools in a later post). And while I am not entirely happy with my ability to nail a likeness on every portrait, I am satisfied that I can work a drawing past a failure point (where I would have given up in the past) and on to a successful piece. When I am drawing someone I know, a likeness is preferred but when I’m simply using a photo or photos as a starting point and structural guide, I’m not interested in a likeness.

This weekend I took on the challenge of drawing from an old photo of a friend when she was a toddler.

Sweetheart
Sweetheart, charcoal on Stonehenge paper, 16″ x 20″

I am very satisfied with the drawing itself but when you directly compare the two, it’s clear what needs to change.

Comparison of photo and drawing

Her eyes are too far apart and the shapes are not quite right. Her nose is too large. Her lips are not quite as pursed. The shape of her head is slightly off at the top… I could go on. I may decide to rework the piece and I may not… I don’t want to lose the lovely marks and textures of the drawing. The question is, will I be satisfied in the long run if I don’t rework her?

What’s interesting is that I’ve never done this kind of direct comparison as a part of the drawing process and perhaps it’s what I should be doing. At least until I get better at finding a likeness… much like how I’ve practiced to the point of understanding the tools, perhaps this is just another tool to use to find what I want to find.

Interesting.

Oh, the Humanity!

I recently watched a documentary which has stayed with me and for the reasons I talk about below, I hope will stay with me for a very long time.

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable evoked (or perhaps “invoked” is a better word, in this case) very strong emotions as I watched piece upon piece of stunningly beautiful artistry rise from the sea. Up until the very end of the story, I was sucked entirely in to the romantic notion that humanity was capable of such incredible beauty and emotion – captured in such stunning pieces of art and the passion it would take to create and transport such a collection.

And then the end of the documentary arrived and I was stunned that I could have been so naive.

And yet what stays with me and makes me sad, are the expressions of emotion on the faces¬† and in the gestures of some of those sculptures. That’s what I respond to and was so awed by on the screen – it’s what I strive for in my own work. And now that I’ve seen that movie, I know that I have been too timid; too afraid to put real emotion in my work; afraid that people will not be pleased by my work (will not want to BUY it!) when what I really want is for people to respond the way I responded to the Damien Hurst artwork and story – with awe and strong emotion. If it doesn’t suit their life or interior decoration – be damned.

I need to make the work I want to make, especially given that I have chosen NOT to live my life as a full-time artist because I’m not cut out for that type of struggle, I damn well better make the art I’ve sacrificed that dream for!

What am I doing creating work which doesn’t strive to effect the human experience?! It is time for me to get to real work.

See, she’s too timid:

Portrait of a Young Woman
Portrait of a Young Woman, charcoal on Stonehenge paper, 11″ x 14″

Sidney Fine Art Show

This year both Andrew and I decided to submit work to the prestigious Sidney Fine Art Show. I’ve done so in the past and enjoyed being a part of the show. Andrew has never submitted. The show is a good one; high quality work beautifully presented. It’s on the more traditional side and generally takes a less broad approach to jurying (than say, the Sooke Fine Art show). Meaning, there are fewer “what is that doing here” pieces. The tricky decision-making aspect of this show is that the show is only up for one weekend and the submission and jury process is not done online so it means driving to Sidney 8 times. We counted. 8 times (including attending the opening and artist’s nights).

Regardless, we submitted the maximum of 3 pieces each and both had all 3 pieces juried in! Yahoo! I’m looking forward to going to the opening night and artist’s night and to seeing how our work fits within the rest of the art work. I hope you will join us there!