Monday, February 4, 2013

At First Glance #3


5" x 7" ink and watercolor on Fabriano Artistico rough paper
(Click to view a larger image)
Everywhere I go, there are people.  Who are they?  What do they do with their lives?  Where are they going?  Where have they been?

Most importantly, what is their essence?  Who is underneath what we see?

I can never have these questions answered.  I can only see people enter and leave my path of vision like props on a set.

But I can try.

This is the third in my "At First Glance" series.  I have self-imposed constraints in the series.  I use pen and watercolor on a white background - focusing entirely on the image.  Most, if not all of the images will be a frontal or near frontal view.  The figures must be derived from people I have seen in Miami.  I am using a sketchy style, reminiscent of my actual sketches in the field, but slightly more formal.  All of the drawings are very small, on a 5" x 7" sheet.  I work from photos.  I do not care as much that I obtain an exact likeness - in fact, I attempt to avoid exact likenesses, in respect for their privacy (and for legal concerns).

I attempt to capture their essence, an impossible task I know, but what the heck.  It is a "soul" painting, not a "body" painting, although the body is the device for this.  It is as much of their soul as I can capture in a glance.  I leave the rest for them.

How accurate is this?  I don't know.  But in her TED talk, "Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are", here, Amy Cuddy says that a researcher at Tufts University showed that when people watched 30 second soundless clips of physician-patient interactions, their judgment of that physician's "niceness"  predicted whether or not that physician would be sued for malpractice.  She says that another study at Princeton showed that judgments from glances of only one second of politician's faces predicted 70% of the outcome of senate and gubernatorial races in the United States.


The first two in the series are here and here.

There has been quite a time gap between #2 and #3.  Part of the reason was my search for an indelible, waterproof, lightfast pen that would work for this size, this style, and the paper.  Thank you to  Sue Pownall of Art of a Nomad.  Thanks to her recommendation, I now use the Staedtler pigment liner .05 for these pictures.  It is a wonderful pen.

I also questioned every aspect of the series, the size and lack of a background, for example.  But the size is right.  When I have fifteen or twenty of them done, there will be a crowd, at this size.  To see an individual, you would have to walk right up to one of them.  It is very much like real life.  A background would distract from the person, and I want all attention on who that person is.

I had more trouble with this figure than either of the previous two - with the face, surprisingly, consider that is what I draw all of the time.  I am hoping the next few will be more straightforward, but maybe they shouldn't be.

There.  How much more can a guy say about a small figure not even seven inches tall?  Don't get me started.

*****

Hey everyone, art philosophy guru Katharine Cartwright's blog is back!  It is here.  Besides being a great professional artist, she always raises interesting questions in her posts.  When her blog was active before we used to have wonderful discussions in the comments section.  So if you want an exhilarating, thought-provoking experience, start checking out her posts and participate!

30 comments:

  1. I like how well you got the argyle sweater and his leaning to one side in his walking stride!

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    1. Thanks! It was the part below the neck that kept me from throwing it away about 10 times. I don't know if it will be enough to save it on the eleventh though. This may not make the final cut.

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  2. I've often pondered about all the people one sees every day, their spheres of existence, their worries, hopes, dreams, mundanities, and how little we all know: as a child I used to find it overwhelming to think of all those lives out there. Lately I've heard my 11 year old daughter voice some of the same ponderings. I think your series is a great way to capture something of the pondering mind! and I really like this guy, even though he took you so much trouble. He looks really alive to me, and I love the posture.

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    1. Thanks, Jane, so much. I am glad it touched something in you. Interesting how you and your daughter have thought about all of the people in the world at such young ages - I don't remember doing that.

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  3. A man staring at people are you...my eldest would call that, "being a creeper" what I am learning from your explortions into peoplekind is that the clothes and carriage speak a lot of the interior.

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    1. At least the "clothes and carriage" (which is a wonderful way to put it, by the way) gives us an impression of the person mighty fast. Is it an accurate impression? Almost certainly not. Yeah, sketching in public I sometimes feel like a "creeper". Maybe I'm just more honest about it since it's all "written" down as compared to other folks out there.

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  4. Interesting perspective Dan, and very well captured. :)

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  5. Shirley Levine said: "Love this one. Could be either of my two sons. Fun series."

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    1. Yup, my son looks something like that too (only better looking and without the man-purse). They all sport beards these days. :)

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  6. Havent done much people watching lately (onty at few art meetings, but there I only see mostly the backs of everyone... boring), but I sure miss going out and watch people and life, sketch away and do the very same thing, wondering who they really are, where did they come from or going. This person you drew looks tall and maybe even a turist (sweater and jeans in Fl, maybe a turist from Canada, lol). What makes me wonder is what does he have in his bag, maybe he's an artist too and its full of sketch books with people he has been watching Hmmmmmmm! Its a cool sketch, and I love the white background, it lets the moments of the people speak.

    Great work!!!

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    1. Sigh, Mari. What a journey, eh? I can relate. The truth is that a visitor from Canada would be in a bathing suit. It only needs to drop to below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and we Floridians sport sweaters. He's a local for sure. I wouldn't last a day in your terrain. I am glad you like the white background - I've gone back and forth on that one.

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  7. What a great sketch. I've looked back at your previous ones, these are going to make a terrific crowd. Thanks for the mention about Katharine Cartwright's blog too.

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    1. My pleasure. I'm hoping for a terrific crowd - we will see..

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  8. Do you ever feel you have really got to know someone just by sketching them, watching their movements & body language? I'm looking forward to seeing all these together...how about an exhibition!

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    1. Speechless, I know, Captain, I know.

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  10. Well he is secure in his manhood... with a man bag over his shoulder... you could have made him even braver with a pink shirt. LOL The things that go thru your mind while people watching. I'm really curious about the politician study... we have 17 running for the same seat in Congress. Election in 6 weeks, a few of them are truly annoying and I've written them off completely, there are about 5 really good guys... who to pick... I just don't know.

    had to edit... only way to do that is to delete it and go again.

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    1. I actually did change the color of the sweater, and made other changes that don't change his character.

      You know, Captain, I've given up on the politicians. Totally. I was completely alienated in this last election when all was said and done, and I've had it. No party speaks for me anymore. So draw straws. (Sorry, I'm in a mood).

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  11. Well, he certainly is interesting...in his choice of sweater and man purse. He seems quite sure of himself! Well done..I'm glad for the white background. You are right, all the interest is in the person. I'll have to check out the videos. Body language does interest me. I'm looking forward to what you do next.

    Glad that Katherine is back!

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    1. I'd think that all of the Portland guys - greenest city, I hear - sport man purses! It's quite unusual down here, I think. Maybe it's a laptop.

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  12. You are 'people watching', a favorite sport of mine. But you've carried it to a higher level, art. Great idea--and a good idea to eliminate the background making us focus on the person. I'm also going to order that pen. I have had such bad luck with drawing pens, I'm glad you mentioned it; I like to keep one in my purse. I'm also glad you told me about the Pettycoat War. It made my day yesterday and I've ordered another history book about Rachel and Jackson--talk about your scandals! I'll check Katherine out. Her topics did spark some interesting responses and lots of thought. It was a shame her blog wasn't a live chat. It's a perfect forum for her.

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    1. Re the pen - I found it worked great for these drawings, but I did not like it at all for sketches and am sticking to the Pigma Micron for that - but I'm going thicker. Of course Sue must sketch with them, and does beautiful work, of course. I am so glad I made your day! How fun! It amazes me how in higher places personal issues affect the multitude.

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  13. Hi, Dan,
    The sketch is nice. Just do it and do relax yourself. I think nothing. My hand and eyes think, not a brain at all. Otherwise lines do not either dance or take a breath.
    The dummy is nearly there. I'll finish it up today, tonight.
    Cheers, Sadami

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    1. Thank you Sadami, more wisdom. The drawing is tight - part of it is that I am trying to be consistent with the style of the first two. I will try to loosen up within those constraints on the next one.

      Bravo re the dummy!

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  14. Hi Dan, I enjoyed your drawing,almost thought I recognized him! That's a tribute to your ability to capture a universal "essence". It'll be interesting seeing future installments of "at first glance".

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    1. What a great compliment - thank you!

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