I Smirk When I Squint

September 24, 2014

ROZ_Reflection_PORTRAIT_WEBLeft: Self portrait on cardstock—the type you make graffiti stencils out of—2.5 x 3.5 inches. Pens listed below.

One of my photographer friends gave gave me two very large (over 30 x 40 inches) prints a few years ago—black and white portraits of cowboys. I love them. I have one on the wall in the computer room and one on the wall where I have my writing desk. There are large dark passages in each photo.

The other day I was walking past one and noticed that I could see my reflection when I looked in the glass at one of those dark areas. It wasn't a clear view, but it was clear enough, after all I squint when I draw anyway don't I?

My backpack was sitting on the table just below the photo so I picked up a piece of cardstock that had been cut to ATC size that was sitting there. (I'd cut up some of my cardstock for a project we'd done long ago at the MCBA Visual Journal Collective and I used the leftovers for notecards.) I started picking up pens and sketching my reflection.

I began with loose strokes of the Sepia Colorbrush, then I adjusted those lines with black ink—a pigment, fine-tipped Pentel Brush Pen. (It's always easier to work on proportions when you have lines down already.) Then I picked up a light pink 15 mm Montana acrylic marker and started to put in midtones (the card is actually a cream color seen over my left—your right—eye). I picked it up because I wanted to be loose and it's hard to be tight in such a small space when working with such a broad tip.

Oh, did I mention I wasn't wearing my glasses.

Then I picked up a raspberry 15 mm Montana Marker, a white Sharpie Poster Paint Pen (waterbased and not smelly), actually two differen sizes of these, both thick—and then a fine point. neon pink Molotow Acrylic Marker, and a fine point pink marker to do the background on the right. I picked up each in quick succession just working out ways to get myself out of the weeds.  

There are places on the left (your left) where you can see I used the marker to carve into the black and redo the shape. It covered very well indeed.

I lost the right side of my nose, but then I couldn't see it anyway no matter how hard I squinted.

And then I was done. I love the way I'm flattening out my upper lip and almost pouting as I strain to see in the reflection, shutting down my eyes to a squint.

So this is what people see when they see me sketching at the Bell or the Zoo or the Fair. 

Last time I did a self-portrait (that wasn't a bird or a dog) it was the 90s and I drew my feet in my hiking boots. 

I've been working so large lately that it was quite fun to try and make the large markers work for such a small space. And it was quickly done, because it was so small. I like that.

I might have to make some more small sketchings, not of me. I can wait a few more decades for that. I'd rather look at other people, and of course birds and dogs.

I recommend grabbing some art tools that aren't exactly your first choice, things you have on hand, and just having some fun. You might discover some new favorites, or a new mode of working, or a new scale to work in.

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