Friday, January 12, 2007

That sculpting idea...

As I said yesterday, this is the first of the more 'painterly-style' portraits that I have attempted. Sargent's work was done in charcoal, his lights are lighter and his darks are darker than mine. Of all the works that I've done here this is the least like the original. I've got the guy looking out, whereas Sargent's looks down. Also, the mood of mine is much different, Sargent's is more somber and contemplative. Part of this is due to the fact that I have some of the values wrong, there is more of the darkest darks on his face and hair than I have put in (to match the darks in the eyes).

That said though, I am pleased that this came out as much as it did. Because it is a tonal work, I can't just transcribe lines. I actually had to try more of the sculpting idea that Sargent and others mention. So, I began just shading in large areas on the paper, I had a few guidelines, but not more than a circle for the head and an 'X' for the line of the nose and placement of the eyes. Then began refining the shading in of tones to more and more exact shapes, as a sculptor would chip away at his rock revealing the shape within slowly.

This was an exciting way to work. I have tried it before, but it has been a while. I even had a sort of minute where all of a sudden I stopped and looked and thought, "that's it, it has transformed from blotches to a figure." Honestly, I tried to refine it a bit after that and realized quickly that I best stop, because I was on the verge of screwing it up!

Tomorrow, time permitting, I will attempt a portrait from a photo I've got.


Jo Castillo said...

Rose, I wandered over here from Maggie's blog. I appreciate that you all are giving me so much homework and sharing with us. Not having seen the original of this, I think your blotches are great and I do see contemplation in his face.

Nice work,

Rose Welty said...

Jo, thanks for your encouragement. I was a little afraid that this project might feel like homework after a while, but actually, I am really enjoying it. It is the highlight of my day. Have a go!