Thursday, February 12, 2015

Painting a Selfie from a Photograph

While looking in the mirror to draw a selfie provides great practice, I have found that scribbling selfies from photographs provides not only practice, but different and unique opportunities for looking closely at yourself in the world.  Since I don't carry a mirror with me most places, it is through photographs that I can examine myself in the context of a particular place.  That gives me more to think about that just my self.  The "who am I?" contemplation of drawing a selfie expands into a "who am I in this place or time?" experience.

This is kind of like drawing from old family photos, which I've written about elsewhere.

Anyhow, recently I had the great good fortune to go on a vacation dedicated to snorkeling and underwater photography--one of my favorite things to do!  I snapped this selfie as I floated in a bay off the Caribbean sea.

Later, I sat down with my kit to do a sketch of this shot. 

Normally I work pen first, then fill in with watercolor, but I wanted to emphasize the watery-ness of this location so I decided to do the paint first.  Of course, I was too chicken to start that without some sort of set up, so I did a loose, light drawing of the main shapes in an ochre watercolor pencil.  The lines were so light, in fact, I couldn't get it to show up in a photo or a scan!

Anyhow, those light lines gave me enough stability to feel grounded in the image and composition, so I painted.  I liked what I came up with, but I still missed the vibe of my good old reliable ink lines.

However, I didn't want to do my usual solid ink over the paint, because I felt it would make it too, well, line-y.  So I tried something new.  I drew many of the "lines" with broken marks.  The ink is there, but not demanding quite so much attention from the viewer.

I rather like the effect.  I have to remind myself that I can do more with my ink pen than simply draw unbroken lines or hatching! 

So how did drawing a selfie from a photography bring a bit more meaning to my life?

The experience of doing this scribble with pencil and paint and ink brought me twenty minutes of thinking about myself and how I feel when I snorkel.  Why do I like it so much?  What connections does it help me make with the planet?  With other parts of myself that don't get enough light during my normal life?  Is floating like flying?  How marvelous that there is this whole other world down there that you can't normally see at all but with the addition of this simple mask and snorkel--there it is!!  What other aspects of creation could I see if I just wore another sort of mask?

On a page in my private journal, I wrote some of these questions and my thoughts on them--just another ten minutes or so.

After a pleasant half hour, I felt as if I'd both napped and communed with the Great Spirit of life.  Rejuvenating!

Sketching selfies in context is a whole new way to revisit your vacations--or to simply think about yourself in the world.  Why not give it a go?!

Final note:  if you are interested in learning more about drawing selfies and the wonderful and enlightening experience it can be, be sure to check out Sketchbook Skool, the course called "Seeing."  One whole week is dedicated to the practice!

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