Monday, December 6, 2010

Men of Milwaukee

I swear, since I retired from teaching I have become less and less focused on tasks at hand, or scattershot in how I spend my days.  For the past year or so I have been actively researching my family, and also my husband's family.  His family is harder, because not that many people seem interested in family history, or have kept good records.  I have been trying to learn more about his grandfather's family, and finding relatively little information.  I was especially interested in a couple brothers who started a successful heat treating business, and I was excited to discover a biography of one of them in Men of Milwaukee: A Biographical and Photographic Record of Business and Professional Men of Milwaukee (Volume 1 1929-1930).  Sure enough, there was a photograph of his great uncle, and more information then I had ever found before. But the book ended up being interesting to me for another reason.  The photos of all these white men, mostly German immigrants, with their short haircuts, serious expressions.  It occurred to me that it would be fun to do a dozen or so sketches from the old photos, practice modified contour drawing, and using a range of values in each one.  All are in my Moleskine watercolor sketchbook using Inktense watercolor pencil and an ink pen.

I'm having a ball.  The sketches vary in likeness, though that doesn't especially bother me.  These are the first four I did last night and today.  Maybe I'll improve as I go along.  No procrastinating here, because the book will be due back at the library in a couple weeks.


laura said...

These are great, Sherry. What a wonderful resource!
I will be visiting Milwaukee in April, hopefully with my mother, who grew up in a German neighborhood in NYC and is always asking, Where are all the Germans?
I haven't been online much lately, but enjoyed just scrolling through your recent posts: what variety of things you've been doing, and doing beautifully!

Charlene Brown said...

What an original idea! Your portraits are very expressive -- probably revealing more about the various personalities (accurately or not) than the original book photos.

Jana Bouc said...

These are wonderful! What a great idea and so well done with such feeling.