Sunday, February 1, 2009

Aretha and a Bit About Process

My pencil drawing of Aretha combines several images I caught, so it has the feeling I want

my goose-neck magnifier which I use intermittently over my miniatures in progress, along with the blue Saral transfer paper I use to transfer my pencil drawing onto my vellum

During the presidential inauguration I was experimenting with my digital camera taking shots of the imagery on my TV screen, and I captured about half a dozen shots of Aretha Franklin wearing her gorgeous outfit and belting out our national song like we've never heard it.  She was so fantastic that day, I knew right away I wanted to make a miniature of her from this occasion!  It's been very busy behind the scenes for me, and I'm sorry it's meant less posting for a bit, but wanted to at least share my start on this mini, esp. if it also gives me a chance to show you more about my process.  

One popular FAQ I am asked is whether I work under magnification.  I use this goose-neck magnifier which has a lens magnification of about 350 percent.  It cost me about $15 on E-bay when I bought it, and it's flexible neck allows me to bend the angle and height of the lens over my work however I like.   I work by naked eye too, but I monitor how it's looking under the magnifier, and partly it's painted under the magnifier too.  There's a competition category in the MASF show for the best miniature by someone under age 35, and I'm always joking it should be for the best miniature over middle age, because everyone's ability to see at close-range diminishes after mid-life.  If only I had the close vision I had at 35!

I work with blue Saral transfer paper, which works just like carbon paper (comes in graphite, blue, red, yellow, white).  I prefer blue which gives me a light line that I can retain but brush even lighter just before I start to paint with a small wad of cotton, so my drawing winds up adequately 'cued in', but doesn't overwhelm the translucent layers of egg tempera that I will be adding.

Unless it's a commissioned drawing, my preliminary drawings for paintings tend to be more utilitarian and smudgy (I'm a lefty!).  For my portrait of Aretha I decided to combine the facial expression from one photo with the sweeping hand gesture in another.  My years of practice with combining imagery as an illustrator make this part easy for me.  My photos are pretty fuzzy from being taken from TV, but hopefully should be good enough to pull off this miniature portrait.  For it's size I decided I wanted her to be as big as allowable and still consider this a 1/6th scale miniature.

I intend to make this a masterwork mini rather than a daily, but I'll be taking you through my steps on it as I progress.


artbyakiko said...

Mona, awesome drawing of a great singer! I can't wait to see how it progresses to another masterpiece of yours.
By the way, you are given an Art Blog Award. Come get it. It's in my blog.:)

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your process! I followed Akiko to your blog. Now I know why you are one of her favorites!