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15 September 2015

Documented Life: Self Portriat

About a year ago, I discovered the Documented Life Project. And it sounded life fun, so I jumped in. Made a planner. Started to re-acquaint myself with my scrapbook supplies (the ones I hadn't gradually gotten rid of after I discovered digital scrapbooking), and generally had a lovely time. It's really satisfying to mess with art again; it's been a long time since I did much of that. Even the digital scrapbooking fell by the wayside after Tigress was in the NICU. For a long time after that it felt like we were playing catch-up. (Like more than a year; she couldn't go around people for months, and it had a lasting impact on our finances; plus, the stress... it just takes time to recover from a NICU stay.) There just wasn't room for so many of the pleasant things. But, we're doing much better now, I'm glad to say. And Tigress is getting bigger, as are the boys, and there's just more time availble for art. Not that I've done every challenge. Not by a long shot! But I've done some challenges, and that's more art than previous years. Plus, the planner gradually morphed from a planner with art into a commonplace book, with doodles. Which is interesting. And I'm keeping that in mind as I start thinking about how to set up for next year. But. That's not ready yet.

So. The other day I was looking at their inspiration and challenges again, and I found this fantastic tutorial. It's for paint. I don't usually mess with paint, much. And I'm frequently unsatisfied with the work that I do. The medium isn't familiar, and it doesn't behave the way I think it should. But, unlike many tutorials that I've looked at, this one left me feeling like, "Hey, I could do that!"

So I'm giving it a try.

First, you pick a selfie, and print it out. I picked one I took a while back. We had been hiking, but my ankle was more sprained than I'd realized when we started out, and the hike was more challenging than it had appeared when we chose it, so the Daddy offered to come pick me up in the car. While Tigress and I waited, I snapped the picture, and I turned it black and white when I printed it for this exercise.

Then you mark it up with a soft lead pencil. The tutorial has directions. I had to dig around to find a soft pencil. I found it and marked up my photo. We look kind of creepy, all marked up like that. But one thing I've learned from Photoshop: the process can be ugly and still turn out a great product. I trust the process more than I used to. 

The graphite transfer is barely there, but it's enough to go on, and it is sure a lot easier to get proportions right when there's a bit of a guide! I'm pretty excited about this process, so far. Doesn't look like much,  yet, but those lines in exactly the right spots are pretty awesome.

Next, you draw in more of the detail, using your photo as reference. With the rest of the lines on it, my photo was hard to use, so I printed a second copy and got to work. I actually ended up using both with and without lines as I drew. The  biggest challenge with this step was that doing the lines like this reversed the picture, and I'm not used to working reversed.

Ugh. The reversing of the picture is becoming a problem; I need and eraser. But the one I tried didn't work. My daughter's face is fine; I'm even happy with it. But all the oops-other side moments are making me look like a clown. The scary kind. I think I need to call in the big guns: I'm texting my sister. She messes around far more often and with much more skill. (She even designs baby clothes!) It's time to consult. 

At this point, I let it sit for several days. Partly because, well, life happened. Partly because I was frustrated. As the frustration faded, so did some of my dissatisfaction. So I added a few extra details and was ready to get started on the paint.

After looking at my tutorial again, I realized that the artist has a video of her process, so I watched that:

In the end, I'm pretty pleased, particularly for the first time I've tried a technique. Next time I do this sort of thing, I think one of those dramatic photos with the face half in deep shadows. It would, I think, work better than the photo I did use, which was slightly overexposed. 


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