Friday, October 31, 2014

Portrait of the Artist As An Old Coot

Self portrait 
3 1/2" x 5 1/4" pocket Moleskine thin paper
charcoal pencil, no erasing
Yeah, I was squinting. Sketched from life.

Yeah, I stood in front of a mirror with light on one side of my face and sketched myself very fast with a charcoal pencil in a small sketchbook. It was a quick gesture because I could not stay on my feet very long, just like a sketch of my ever-fidgeting 2 minute sleeping cat. I squinted with one eye, which got a little exaggerated with a slightly misplaced line, big deal. I was getting the gist and sketching quick to get mostly the masses of shadow and light in that lighting and general proportions down.

It's no mistake, my face is rather long and narrow especially on the bottom half. I don't have much forehead compared to chin and upper lip. Happens sometimes. The classical Renaissance proportions are a third top of the head, third middle, third lower part from bottom of nose down. I have a short top third. 

I got some effects like the highlight on my eyebrow on the dark side looking light while the shape on the light side was more shadowed. It was fun, hadn't done one of these for years. Yes I have permanent big bags under my eyes, comes from a long hard life with a lot of trouble sleeping due to pain and rouble. Happens. The saggy skin doesn't go away even if the stressor does. The lines are there on my forehead too. If I drew in more detail you'd also see the crow's feet but they were more delicate details.

I don't mind. The hollows and sags and flows of my skin all mark the passage of my life and my face looks very lived in. I stayed up through a lot of long nights and would've been just fine if I hadn't had to get up on the following mornings - always was a night owl! But that's me, a sketch of what I look like. Weirdly I still don't have gray hair and am pushing sixty. I figure when it comes it'll come all at once like it did on my dad - a litle for a year and then wham, silver. And then it'll be a real pain to try to draw it instead of the usual darkish to mid brown.

Fun. When doing self portraits don't idealize, just get it down. It's going to come out better than you expect anyway. Especially under dramatic light. Be sure to give yourself that for the exercise!

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