Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Portrait Series: Nora Gharib

Nora’s portrait was one of the more difficult ones, mostly because I was unsure how to proceed with her portrait. This is the photo she sent in.

I really liked it. Although I never wanted to do a full body portrait, I liked the composition of this picture, and how vertically oriented it was. I also liked the frames around Nora which added interesting elements to the overall picture. As usual, I sketched it out and here’s what came out.

I liked this sketch, although I knew that my sketch’s face was a bit off from what the picture actually was (something that kept bothering me even as I was sketching). I scanned it and quickly laid down some color. After manipulating the sketch to more accurately reflect the original photo, I did something strange, creating a mass of light color behind Nora, like some kind of aura. It was bright blue, so I made her skin color orange, because I knew it complemented the background well. 

But, there was a big problem – and this is why it took me so long to finish this portrait, despite the fact it was, I believe, the third photo to come to me. I tried to recreate the frames, but it didn’t look right. I tried to add more interesting elements around her to proxy for the frames, it didn’t work.  I felt stuck. While I liked everything I did thus far, I felt like it wasn’t interesting enough. So I left it alone. For a long time.

About a week ago (from publish date) I went back to the piece, which is something I’ve felt is very helpful when creating anything. Taking some time completely away from a work, whether it’s something you’ve written, drawn, or created, will allow you to have a fresh perspective and a different mentality than when you were working on it. In my case, I was less critical and realized that I did have something that made the piece more interesting – that aura that was placed there out of pure instinct. With the different-colored skin, it gave the piece a bit of a sci-fi feel, so I used that to create small elements that were placed within the piece. Here's the final piece.

In the end, it was the time I took away from the piece that allowed me to figure the problem (or, kind of realize that there was no problem in the first place). As you work, I encourage you to do the same. Breaks are important and while I may not always have the luxury to take weeks off from a piece, even taking a day or two completely, not thinking about it, may indeliberately spur new ideas you can use.   

And also, thanks for picture Nora :)