Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Another from the Vintage Photo Drawer

Colored pencil and gouache in my Moleskine sketchbook

Original vintage photo, scanned and enhanced

I'm still interested in experimenting with sketching from vintage photographs. I started with old family photos I scanned, but then discovered a treasure trove of vintage photos of unknown people at a local resale shop. I enjoy rummaging through old pictures, and I find that not knowing the people frees me up to not worry too much about perfect likenesses. I feel no responsibility to make the people attractive, or to be true to the details of the pictures. I love imagining who the people are, what the occasion was, where the picture was taken. In this photo, the man and woman are obviously close, sitting so near one another in the rowboat. Who else was there in the boat with the camera? Are they alive today?

I've tried all sort of approaches to these old pictures. I've used graphite, pen and ink, colored pencil. I begin by scanning and cropping the original picture, then running it off on my printer. Sometimes I adjust the photo in Photoshop Elements, then work from the manipulated picture. That's what I did here. I eliminated the reflections in the water and the waterline, because what I was interested in most was the pattern of darks and lights, the way their heads bend together. I might try another version that shows the mussel shell they are looking at, and shows her boots more clearly, but for now I like this simplified version that emphasizes their closeness.

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