After the work I did last time I got really upset with the whole piece and didn't work on it for a good long while. Deadlines are motivating however...
I finished up working on the shirt, hand, and arm, and I was actually pretty happy with how I did on those sections. I thought the marks I made looked better than anywhere else on the piece, and even where there wasn't a clear mark to copy from Dürer's piece I managed to make something that resembled his mark. It made me feel a lot better to be working on it again. I also tried to be more bold with the lines and the line quality, especially in the hair, and I think that helped to give it form and a distinct look.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with parts of the work, however, overall, I don't really like it. I'm very glad I did it, and I certainly learned some lessons from the experience.
This started of decently enough, I think. I was pretty happy with how it was going, even though I looked a lot angrier than I did in the photograph.I was decently happy with how the face had gone, and even though I didn't like the whole eye area at first, it grew on me. However, then I started shading the face.
This was a step I was really nervous about, because it was a lot of white space to fill and I wasn't really sure how to proceed. I started with the jaw and the shadow behind it, and that went pretty well, so I decided to just block off the highlights and go for it.
That was a mistake. I over-did it on the face. I have multiple problems with the marks I made. First of all, I made too many marks. I was too narrowly focused on individual areas, and couldn't see the whole picture.I also made to many sections of overlapping shading, which made the whole face much darker than it should have been. Honestly, I probably should have stuck with where I was in the first picture.
My other mistake was in the mouth and nose region. For some reason I had a really difficult time being able to tell if the mouth looked right in pencil when the rest was in pen, and I inked the mouth too soon. The mouth turned out really badly, and in trying to fix it I made the whole area much too dark.
I've made a whole lot of progress and overall I'm pretty satisfied with how its going. I think it looks pretty nice, and in some places Dürer's mark really comes through.
However, there are certainly parts that I'm very unhappy with. I think I really messed up on my arm. The mark I have there really looks nothing like Dürer's, so I'm definitely going to go back and see if I can make it better somehow. I made the back of the nose curve back toward the front much more than I initially intended to, however, there's not a lot I can do about that now.
Another area that I'm having difficulty with is the hair. My hair is a lot longer than the hair in Dürer's drawing, which makes it a lot harder to copy the mark. The hair in Dürer's work has a lot of curve to it, which mine really can't do as it just falls straight down.
I am extremely happy with the ear however. I think not only does it look pretty good, but I think I did a good job of copying Dürer's mark. That's probably my favorite part of this piece for the moment.
I worked on the drawing next. To be honest it was ridiculously easy, and although I know parts of it are still a little off, I think overall it turned out pretty accurately. It was also really quick - it took almost no time at all. I guess part of that is because I'm not drawing the individual strands of hair like I did for the Old Master Copy. I think that as I start to add ink I will sketch boxes for areas to be hatched or filled in the same way, and that should make for an easier process and more accurate marks.
I started this off with an idea I had really late at night. This composition I thought of really resonated with me, and I felt like it reflected something of my personality. I took that first picture with my computer webcam, and although you can't see it, I had to reach my left arm under and across my right arm to hold my computer out far enough - it was quite the feat of contortion. The top of my head and most of my hand were cut off in this first picture, so later I had my brother take some versions that included my whole head. That's where the second two pictures came from. I did some cropping to get those to where I wanted them to be. Then I did some roundabout and inefficient photoshop magic to get evenly spaced grid lines (the rectangles make a 10x10 grid) and saved it. I liked the composition and angle of the second photo less, but the shadows and features were better, so I'll use that as a second reference photo to accentuate depth when I ink the details and hatching.
When it got to drawing the grid, I realized I didn't have a yardstick at home, and so I used a string taped to the table to mark points on the paper that I could then connect with a regular 1 foot ruler (credit to Raina for the idea). The drawing started off pretty well despite my doing it late at night. I find the 10x10 grid really helps with accuracy, because it lets me judge how far between two points a contour line intersects a gridline. I can mark those points and just connect them with the right curve in the line. The mouth currently is not at all accurate, so my next step is going to be to fix that.
While the 10x10 grid that I do is initially extremely difficult because of the precision and accuracy and math that I insist on, it makes the whole drawing process so much easier for me, and in my mind is totally worth it for the greater accuracy it gives me in copying an image. If I do it well, there shouldn't be any gap for judgement - it should always be clear where the "right" line should go, and if something is off, it should be clear in how it's wrong.
Howardina Pindell: What Remains to Be Seen
Abstraction and Mark Making
Here is the final (official) process post for this project. I put an enormous amount of effort into this drawing, and despite the extreme incompleteness of it, I was very satisfied with The parts I did accomplish. I copied every single line as exactly as I could, and while I can see errors and misplaced lines, the effect overall is very much the same as Dürer's. Looking back and forth between the two, they look really quite similar, and each major point - the spaces between major lines, thick blots of ink, areas of light and dark - pretty much lines up.
Over the next couple weeks I want to continue to work on this and finish it up. I think I've done the majority of the most difficult part - the overlapping lines in the back of the neck and the hair - so the rest should go a little more smoothly. I'm satisfied with the part that I've done, and I would just like to see this project finished.
I absolutely loved this lecture. I found it incredibly inspiring and I left it wanting to draw and think and learn more about it and so much else.
Unfortunately, I missed the Lunchtime Lecture last year on Wabi-Sabi, which I was very disappointed about because I love Japanese art and design.
At this lecture, however, it wasn't really an interest in the topic that drew me in, it was a more emotional connection. Wabi, Sabi, and Yugen made complete sense to me, and it felt somehow completely natural. I think without knowing it, I had almost adopted similar ideas of Aesthetics as the Japanese seem to have, and this presentation showed me how similar they really were.
I also really resonated with Tanizaki's ideas and writing. I was extremely impressed with his capability to convey emotion and aesthetic interest through writing in a completely unique and new (to me at least) way. His essay seems much more powerful BECAUSE it is not a 'traditional essay' in the modern sense of the word. To me, the simple phrase "in praise of shadows" is the perfect summation of everything he says, describing elegance, beauty, simplicity, and tradition. His stress on shadows and darkness, as well as imperfection in the mechanized age felt instinctive and innate, and as soon as I looked at the images Amanda Adams showed, I understood.
The one frustration I had was with defining Wabi, Sabi, and Yugen. These ideas are so ethereal and almost tempestuous in nature that they resist definition. Maybe in the Japanese language, these words have clearer meaning to the speakers, but in English, perhaps the less elegant language, they simply do not convey enough meaning and weight to be able to say that they do the ideas they represent justice.
Wabi, Sabi, and Yugen are complicated concepts, but they feel native and natural and perfectly right.
I found this video about Kintsugi, which is the repairing of damages that took on artistic value in Japanese art.
Thus far, inking the Dürer copy has been successful but slow. I had some trouble at first with Dürer's mark due to the angle of the pen. Whenever I was trying to make a mark that was thicker or heavier at the top, the pen would catch due to the curve of his mark. In some of the pictures below you can see some of my practice.
Probably the hardest part of this process is honestly just looking at the lines and figuring out where each line goes. There's such a high density of lines overlapping, especially in the part I worked on between the 4th and the 6th, and just seeing where they go is quite a challenge.
Initially, I had been penciling in most lines as I went to make sure I got the proportions just right, but because that took such an excessive amount of time, I've moved away from that and have tried to just freehand most of the smaller, less important lines. It can be more frustrating because mistakes are permanent, but because there are so many of the lines, no mistakes will really stand out unless you compare the drawings at each line. However, I am very proud of the work I've done. Every single line (except one that I forgot and there isn't room to add it in) is in place, and overlapping with the same lines in the same places as the original.
One more frustration of this project is the scale. This piece is massively bigger than the original, which is only 8.2 inches by 5.8 inches, so the width of the pen relative to the paper was much larger for Dürer. This essentially means that on my copy, there is much more white space relative to inked space because the pen is so thin. I've tried to fix this by going over lines multiple times to make them thicker, but it's still not quite right, and it changes the effect somewhat.
Honestly, I really enjoyed the drawing of this piece. I was sick the first day we worked on these, so I started out a little behind and only got my paper set up with its 10x10 grid (maybe a little excessive) on the second day. However, that small grid made the drawing a lot easier to do and I think made it nearly impossible to have any major mistake in proportionality. I do have to make sure I strike a balance between making sure things are in the right place, and getting through the drawing to the next phase. However, overall, I am very happy with how the piece is going, and I like Albrecht Dürer even more now than I did before starting this.
Unfortunately I don't have a picture from my first day of work, as it was only the grid that I finished.