Sunday, August 29, 2004

August 29, 2004
Recently, I’ve been trying to learn from the Masters. This stems from having been such a lousy student and missing much needed instruction in college when I was too cool and too lazy. So yesterday I was looking through some of my art reference and came across a postcard I bought at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City several years ago. It’s called Self Portrait by Pablo Picasso, 1901. I bought it because I thought it had a loose, yet solid take on Victorian portraiture, as opposed to his later, more famous abstract stuff. Both as a challenge and as an exercise I wanted to see if I could capture some of the essence of his expressive face in scratchboard form. Of course, in scratchboard you are starting with a black piece of artboard and you use a variety of knife points to scratch away at the black, or negative space. So you are using tonal values backwards. It gets hard, especially when you’re trying to render the mustache, lips, eyebrows and the eyes themselves, because you are scraping away, rather than drawing lines around the edges, as in traditional drawing. What did I learn? Well, my rendering is off more than I’d like, the nose being too long and not anchoring the face as in the Picasso version, and the eyes are not spread out enough, a common mistake by novices, and apparently me. The rudimentary rule is, the center of the eyes should line up with the outer edges of the mouth. Well, I missed that one, and you’ll notice he didn’t. Ha. Still, I think I learned a little bit about being looser and letting tonal values build without leaning so much on linework (also a common crutch by hacks, which leads me to a potential book title: Hacks Like Me). Or, maybe not.

Speaking of artwork, check out the new scan of La Tules, below (in the August 26th blog entry). I rescanned it as a halftone and it still isn’t as sharp as it’ll look in the magazine, but it beats the mushed-out version posted before.

I spent most of yesterday morning just writing down scenes I want to illustrate for Volume II of Classic Gunfights. I also made a list of scenes I want to do for my first graphic novel, and because I’m so damned ADD, I get all these great ideas and then they all flood into my brain and I can’t focus on any one particular line of attack. Or I go off on a tangent and end up in Picassoland. Ha.

Well, it’s all a work in progress, isn’t it? And I’m thankful to be able to even have the opportunity to be in the game, and when I finally get in the zone, lookout. And things could be worse, I could be in the Red Zone.

“How to succeed: try hard enough.
How to fail: try too hard.”

—Malcolm Forbes

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