Friday, 30 May 2008

Self Portrait progress

Okay, here is the new preliminary sketch for my new, big, self portrait. I am much happier with the pose on this one because, as you can see, I'm looking at myself from the other side. I'll be painting myself while looking in the mirror, rather than working from a photo, because as I've found with previous self-portraits I can get a more solid painting than when working from a photo. Please humour me and forgive the awful drawing itself and look at the composition, if you'd be so kind. Here I am now presenting my whole body to the viewer, instead of hiding behind my 'painting' arm as before. This is a more confrontational pose, whereas the earlier one was too passive and defensive. My hands here are much more interesting and active, holding the pen or brush and probably my easel (here I grabbed a book as a prop). The canvas in the painting is now side-on so I, the artist, am the focus. Although, in the previous layout, I was interested in the idea of viewer looking at both myself and the painting within the painting, I now feel that that is too complicated for me to pull off at this time. I am much happier with this simplification, and I don't feel that your attention will be divided, with two components competing for your attention.

Although the line of the canvas in the painting is leading the eye to 1 o'clock and out of the frame, it is however balanced by the support bracket of the easel (the one dad got me this year - thanks again dad) pushing your eye in and up to the centre of the composition. I would now appreciate suggestions on this factor. I may soften the way I paint the canvas and easel , so that they merge into the background somewhat, leaving my fantastically poised 'painting' hand in sharp focus. Actually, looking at it again, I may balance this with a vertical object/line/wall on the left of the canvas, which would frame and contain me and add symmetry. . I know that symmetry isn't a fashionable idea at the moment where interior design and architecture prefers asymmetry, but I have been inclined towards is recently myself. And it is my own self-portrait after all. A vertical on both sides would also shift my own image to the centre of the canvas. This is starting to sound 'safe' and static and neutral, so I'll need to do more composition studies to test this out. I would never have thought that preliminary analysis of composition would be so much fun, but it is.

I also think that my stance is more flattering that the previous one. I acknowledge that I am basically oblong in shape, and I don't want to be accused to 'photo-shop-ing' myself. However, I have here eliminated my protruding belly and bum, while retaining my idiosyncratic stance of an arched back, slight slouch, and bent knees.

BUT, I'm writing all this, ie, yesterdays post, today's, and goodness knows how many more yet, at 2 am because images and ideas were coming in and out of focus, keeping me awake tonight, I mean last night, and I need to resolve some of these issues before I go back to bed tonight. Well, actually, yesterday from when you're reading this now. What I mean to say is that I just didn't want to post it all in one go, as each of the problems regarding this self portrait seemed to break down nicely into contained units.

So, I'm basically happy with the pose. What's next? Background. Arghh!

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