Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sketching (and Writing) from Old Family Photos Part One

The end of the year.  Many of us see more of our extended families than we normally do during the holidays.  And many of us spend some time reflecting on the year coming to a close and the year ahead.  We make New Year's resolutions because who we have been has led us to a who we are that we'd like to change in the future.  What is the meaning of life? How will we tackle that going forward?

Through the wonderful community of sketchbook keepers at Sketchbook Skool, I've seen that many folks who mostly draw from life occasionally turn to an old family photo for sketching inspiration.  Some have shared that by drawing pictures of themselves as children, or of family members in their early lives, they have had lovely meditative experiences.  Some have come to new appreciation of their own lives and the lives of others.

Recently I decided to give it a try.  I have a favorite photo of my grandmother fishing from sometime in the late 1960s.  My grandfather was head of the Pennsylvania State Fish Commission and a committed fisherman, and she sometimes joined him.

I decided to do a Tommy Kane-inspired sketch--which means including a lot of detail, then looking for more detail, then crosshatching, then looking for more detail.  (Check out his art if you want to know more--he's listed in the Goodies section at the right.)

Here is the result, ink only.

This took me about two steady hours of work.  I didn't abstract or guess at anything.  I drew--as exactly as I could--the shadows in the water, the checks on her coat, the pine trees in the background.  
I don't always sketch in this super-detailed "Tommy Kane" way.  For one thing I don't have the time.  But doing it for this sketch of the old photo provided the perfect quiet reflection for the end of the old year and the beginning of the new.

I'm still thinking about those things, letting them percolate as I contemplate how to color this sketch.  I hope to report on both soon!

Sketching really does help me contemplate the meaning of life!  And how the lives of others have influenced mine.

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