Sunday, September 13, 2009

More Faces: drawing from life vs. from photos

I had a great time at a little open mic concert hosted by Fuller's Coffee by the Books. The two performers (Dan Long & Kyle Megginson) didn't seem to mind my sketching and my daughter's interpretive dancing.

Drawing from live moving, singing, performing people is an altogether different experience than working from photos. It feels much more alive and collaborative. I move faster and make bolder choices because I have to. At times, especially when drawing musicians, I almost feel like I'm playing along. It nearly scratches the itch I always feel at concerts to pick up an instrument and join in.

And yet the outcome is almost always sloppier. The eyes or the the jaw or the lips don't come out quite right and I can't shake the feeling that it's harder for the sketches to stand on their own if the viewer wasn't there and doesn't have their own memories to complement them.

My "analog facebook" project has been an exercise in drawing exclusively from photos, often of friends I haven't seen in person for a while. Sometimes I find a great portrait that looks fun to draw. Other times I composite several photos into something that approximates my memory of the person. I usually have more time and the ability to do a pencil sketch first before working in the ink. Despite the overall greater detail and precision, I still almost always find a fatal flaw that just isn't quite right.

The reason I like drawing live so much is that I cut myself more slack about the precision and the mistakes and focus on capturing something of the feeling of being there.

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