Picture-making is an ongoing learning experience.
This one started with a really cool photo of Christy adjusting her hair clip. Nothing out of the ordinary about that, right? True enough, but this particular photographic moment-in-time has some especially interesting things happening.
Compositionally, her arms and hands are positioned beautifully while not obstructing the face or creating visual confusion in any way. The shadow on her left arm connecting to the cast shadow on the wall connecting to the contour of her body at the bottom of the picture, leading the eye back upward, is quite an interesting and lovely shape, and a lucky catch by my 'lil Nikon.
I thought it a very "iconic" pose just ripe for a fine art creation.
Christy is one of my terrific models. Among the many emotive poses she struck, this is one of my favorites. It's a slightly unusual capture with the pose and shadow combination. It's also filled with excellent mood, contrast, form, and beauty.
For me, an illustration, speaking in terms of picture-making rather than concept, is usually about the image or the mark on the board. For a straightforward image, like a person seated in a chair, I like to pump up the mark-making to add visual interest and give the viewer a reason to investigate the picture. Conversely, for a very intricate and unusual image (like Manhattan, seen in an earlier post), I tend to tone down the wild marks and let the image take center stage. A fierce competition between marks and image can blow a perfectly good picture.
With this image, I set out to make the marks a predominant player. I had also intended something different for the background than what you see, here. As the piece progressed, though, I found myself tightening up the strokes to accommodate the originally intended intricate background which would become lost among painterly strokes.
Things were looking too tame with my original background. So, I worked up this graffiti and stone wall backdrop. It seemed to give the image a little more edge and is more complementary to the expressive strokes I wanted to keep.
I also like the resulting mood and mysterious story that doesn't reveal itself too soon.
My thanks to Christy for making this illustration possible.
Allan Burch is an award-winning illustrator and portrait artist, providing solutions for editorial, book, advertising, and institutional projects.
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