Been a busy music weekend, with a show for a new band on Saturday night (and lots of preparatory work the previous two afternoons), an extended practice session with another band on Sunday afternoon, and my fingertips are really feeling it today. But back to the drawing board on Monday morning, and I finished up an illustration for US Catholic in the morning (below).
I also found a little time in the afternoon to work on another of my ongoing ‘friend of a friend’ portrait series illustrations. With this one, I specifically wanted to avoid sticking too closely to the photo reference, so I worked freehand on a practice sketch, and then used the sketch as my source material. (this one was of Cole, a local musician who I met this summer when we shared a bill at an outdoor festival). I still tend to lean toward caricature when I try this approach, but I may continue working in this method for the next few I attempt just to push the boundaries a little further.
Well, I was waiting around for the details of an upcoming assignment to come down the pike (from New York, so not surprisingly things are moving a little slow, considering what the hurricane did to them this week), and it felt so weird NOT doing any portraits in my down-time, that I decided to keep the project going. Perhaps not at the same breakneck pace as this summer, but whenever I have some free time, I’ve decided to branch out into ‘friends of friends’ on facebook (basically, anyone who hasn’t privacy protected their photos, and I’m going to have to keep careful track of names from here on out, in case I ever decide to do anything with these photos and need permissions). So anyways, I added a new facebook friend this morning, and started with her (below). #1 in the new series is Sadie, one of the JJHD army of fans, and I delved into her ‘friends list’ and came up with the fellow above, #2 Randy, through a friend of a friend. This approach might be more interesting because some of my favorites from the last batch were near strangers and I wasn’t bound by ‘the need to flatter’.
Eventually, I’ll collect these in an archive like the last batch, but I’ll wait until I get a few more under my belt.
Every summer for the past few years, I’ve found that my business tends to slow down in the summer months. I’m not the sort of person who takes well to sitting idle, so I’ve taken to giving myself ‘summer challenges’ to keep myself busy, to keep the creative juices flowing, to keep my skills from atrophying, and to take the opportunity to try out different styles that I normally don’t get called upon to use in my day to day assignments. On March 28 of this year, I set myself a goal of drawing a portrait of each and every one of my ‘facebook friends’ in a variety of styles. I kept the size consistent (4×6), and kept myself to ‘one a day’ so I wouldn’t get bogged down in overworking them. I also told myself that I would not ‘self edit’ myself, look back, or otherwise ‘redo’ illustrations that I wasn’t happy with (but I broke this rule, near the end). It took me 218 days to complete 201 portraits (not bad, considering I had to take some time off to care for my ailing father), and for the most part I’m fairly happy with how many of them turned out. I’ve stumbled upon a couple new styles that I may incorporate into my catalog, and gotten lots of practice with faces. I probably used specific photo reference for about 95% of the illustrations, and from time to time worked in a caricature style where several photos were used as a rough guide. Sometimes a particular ‘friend’ did not include a picture of themselves on their ‘facebook page’, so I did the best I could using whatever they had on their site that approximated a ‘face’. (you can click on the image above to see a larger ‘composite’)
At one time I had a comprehensive collection of all the portraits posted to a single site, but the link has gone dead, but if you wish to peruse a collection of some of the ‘best’ of the series, you can find a link in the menu bar above.
The last few portraits I finished up on October 31st, and they are as follows (and are pictured below): #201 Tracey (a friend from back in the days of our monthly ‘living room jams’, who doesn’t have a photo of themselves on their page, just this picture of a dog); and then I redid a few of the portraits from earlier this summer that I was unhappy with; #62 My cousin Amy; and #71 Peggy, a high school classmate.
Down to the wire on this ‘facebook portraits’ self imposed challenge, and here are #196 Kelly (former client and coworker of my wife), #197 Kevin (high school classmate), #198 Lynn (friend of a friend), #199 Micki (friend of a friend) and #200 Tim (photographer friend of a friend). (Plus I also redid #131 Shelley, since I have discovered that since my last visit to her page, that some actual photos of her had surfaced). Almost finished, and I’ll post the entire set of 201 portraits later this week, but I have one more to do, plus a trio of portraits that I’ve been itching to redo (I know I know, I said ‘no looking back’ at the start of this thing, but these three have been really bugging me, and if I’m honest with myself, I really want to go back and redo about half of the entire set, but I’m trying my best to hold back).
Getting near the end of the ‘facebook challenge’, and got a few more done today, after I finished up an illustration for the Chronicle in the morning (pictured at the bottom of the post, and the rough sketches are posted in yesterday’s posting). Today’s portraits are of #194 Frances, who is the wife of #112, and my cousin Mary, #195, (whose other siblings were: #29 & #30, #58 and #142).