Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Discussing Portraiture

(stamp size 3.5" square)

Between lettering and portraits, I don't know which I like to carve more. However, both are a challenge, to be sure. This stamp was an early attempt at portraiture from a photo I took while hiking a trail on the beautiful Oregon Coast. At the time, my sweet daughter was going by the moniker MoMonkey. Of course, when she changed her trailname, she unwittingly made this rather large carve obsolete.

This stamp definitely has some issues. I was pleased with it at the time, but knew there was room for improvement. The mouth screams at me; way too heavy and teeth will mess it up every time, in my view. The nose, as well, does not need to be completely outlined. Oftentimes breaking up those lines (where light would naturally hit) will lighten up the feature and give more balance to the entire face.

(stamp size 3.5" x 2.5")

The above carve is an early attempt at a self portrait. These early carves are invaluable for learning what works and what doesn't and where the focus needs to be. Definitely the nose and the mouth are having issues in this one. A little experimentation with shadowing in the cloak is a good start and the eyes and hair are working, but the whole face is not right due to the nose and mouth being off somehow. The initial drawing of your image lines and really paying attention to light and dark make a huge difference in a portrait. In this one, as well, you can see I eliminated the teeth completely...does that work? Not sure.

If you are asking how could I have done this one differently, I guess the answer would be to redraw it and pay more attention to the small details; not just outlining the nose and mouth, but to really pay attention to where the light is hitting and where the shadows gather. This portrait needs more dimension, as it comes off looking very flat.

Unfortunately, there was no saving or fixing either one of these stamps. Once that rubber is gone, it's gone baby! But the learning experience was definitely worth the price of admission, in my view. Experimentation, the challenge of harder images, and gaining an 'eye' for what images would translate well into rubber are all skills that are gained from working with portraits.


Mark said...

I really love your blog. It is so nice to get info from such a fantastic carver.

Ari C'rona said...

Great advice, my dear! I'm still learning to see the areas of light and dark... you're so patient! lol!:o)

Mama Cache said...

You teach with a great deal of humility, my friend.

Anonymous said...

As an observer of the whole effect of your daughter's portrait, I think it's great. The eyes and smile draw you in. Her face is bursting with a friendly personality in this stamp.

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