Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Late yesterday I dove into a piece of paper, drawing lines with blind contour technique from a number of random photos on the Internet, deliberately not completing recognizable shapes, and turning the page to lay more on top of more on top of more. Here is the end result. I took thirty minutes or longer and turned it and turned it and erased some lines, and drew some more and then I found my subject. Sometimes the subject emerges only vaguely from the lines, other times there is a more definite hint, as there was this time. Almost always I recognize the right theme (or even know ahead of time what it will be about, before the shapes begin to emerge). I have no idea how this works, and (like my typing, which is done with a random movement of three or four fingers on each hand and is quite fast) I don't look too closely or question it for fear it will unravel. I just smile and let it happen.

In this image you can see what I realized (I apologize for the quality of both images - too late I found out the light was insufficient). I knew it would be a self portrait a month ago, before the paper was even stretched. But when I was looking at the lines I had an open mind - ready for it to be four or five other things that looked like they were beginning to emerge. Then I saw the unusual portrait angle and placement just sitting there, and realized it was correct. If you look back at the first image, above, maybe you can see it too (click to see it enlarged)? I was already there. I am deeply excited by the placement because of the composition possible, and because this view taps into something essential and central I know about myself but have never seen in a photo or drawing of me before. I couldn't tell you what that is, but this is it. And I'm excited, too, by how much all of this is true and how impossible it is for me to understand it in any way I can put into words. That's an uncommon situation for me.

And the last thing, then, is to figure out what fills the rest of this piece. What will be the bulk of this page, though not the center of interest. I would grin to hear anyone's thoughts. One of you might even have the same idea I will actually see and pursue in the end... Or more probably, not.


David said...

My first impression of the first image was that it reminded me of the photo my eye doctor takes of my retina each year. Combine that with your self portrait sketch in the second image, and it speaks to me of you looking at yourself through your mind's eye.

susan said...

I tried twisting my computer all ways to see the first image but simply can't make out much. However, the second is quite clear and you've come up with a very interesting self portrait after going through all the contours. Somehow I'm imagining birds, flowers, leaves and branches flowing back from your face as you look toward an empty sky. Of course, I could (and likely am) wrong so it will be interesting to see how you actually do interpret the image in color. The profile is very strong.

Lisa said...

I thought the same thing as David when I first saw the top photo. I could see lots of things happening in the background. Your family, your art supplies, books, food, grenouille, work, travel, even some current events crowding in.

linda said...

i saw the top and wondered at your process, very interesting very interesting how our minds all work differently from beginning to the end....then i saw where you were going and know what i see in that painting...i see your face and the trees that you love...i do see the way but don't want to say partly because it isn't far to lay that on your process....i am sure you will make this a very interesting work of art and i cannot wait to watch so don't forget to share. xx