I used to draw portraits of people who posted their photographs on the Sktchy app. I wanted to learn how to capture a person's likeness. I liked Sktchy because of the variety of faces and expressions that people shared.
I slowly realized that a portrait is more than exactly rendering how I person looks. As the artist, I was rendering my perceptions of how the person looks. I became aware that I was making assumptions about these people because I didn't know anything about them. I wanted to do more than copy the person's face; I wanted to be able to express something about that person in my work.
I turned to my old family photographs. People I knew and share memories with me. At first it was very difficult to draw my family because so many feelings came up, and not all of the feelings were pleasant ones. Since I've started to abstract the photos more, it's easier to put more distance between myself and the me who was there in those photos. When I collage the photos into a new design, I feel less triggered. Instead I feel more like I am coming to peace with these memories and these people and the me from the past.
Now I am starting to think about how I paint from these photos. Instead of painting exactly how it looks in the photo, I can choose how I want this painting to look. I want to choose how I paint from what brings me joy and pleasure: thick paint, palette knives, warm colors. I want to look at my painting and still vestiges of the old photo, but I want to feel more at peace with the old memories.
For today's practice, I experimented with enlarging the other half of my source photo to fit a 9x12 format. I drew the grid on my 9x12 drawing paper and collaged the figures on top of key intersections in the grid. I like this process more because it makes it easier for me to put a figure in a specific spot. It's also much easier to see where there are gaps I will need to fill.
Next I'm going to make a drawing from the collage.
As part of #20For20ArtChallenge2022, I am reading from The Power of Daily Practice: How Creative and Performing Artists (and Everyone Else) Can Finally Meet Their Goals by Eric Maisel, PhD. Part I of the book covers 20 Elements of Practice. In this blog post series 20For20, I write about one Element every day and reflect on how to incorporate the Element into my daily painting practice.