The problem with Robert
No, I’m not trying my hand at triptychs. The “artwork” is the coloured one, on the right hand side.
It started out in my usual fashion. I saw a photograph that I liked and I began to sketch from it. I believe that drawing inspiration in this way from other art is called “appropriation”. My aim is never to copy. Usually I draw from black and white photographs and by the time I’m finished, while side by side you could see where the inspiration came from, my art has become… well… my art.
So what is the problem with Robert? It’s not – much to my father’s surprise – that he has two eyes. I seem to enjoy omitting an eye in many of my portraits, but not so here. It is also not that he is unfinished – that much is plain. The “problem” is his expression.
Robert – like all my stuff – was drawn freehand. Somehow… quite frequently in fact… I change the expression of those I draw. Angry becomes sad. A smile becomes a grimace. I don’t deliberately set out to do this, but I achieve it consistently. I guess I just don’t do “happy”.
So once I realised that there was certainly something different about Robert’s mouth, I decided to undertake a little research. I got out the lightbox and traced – (in the name of research here) the original (left) and then my colour drawing (middle). The similarities in line are obvious, but he has changed. But all this is a bit boring really… don’t you think?
The far more interesting question is whether I should change him back. And my answer, is a resounding no.
I have to say that the picture I drew from was a delightfully warm and beautiful photograph of Robert Redford by Andrew Zuckerman. So lovely in fact, that’s it’s a pity all you are seeing is the line drawing – which I think is really dull. In comparison to the line drawing, I prefer the altered / unrealistic sketch. Of course, I would… it was my eye that changed his face that way to start with. I am sure that there are some who will look at these 3 images and find the latter two pictures just poorly rendered, or even horrid. But in that flaw, there’s something I like. Without that flaw, I am not appropriating, I am copying. Without a splash of crimson across his face and an almost pained look, instead of a smile, he isn’t mine. And I know that the more I add paint to the piece, the more “me” he will become.