Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Portrait Class

(Diffuse Glow)

I am taking a portrait drawing and painting class with Pam Carriker at and after practicing on a "generic face" that Pam created for us, I moved onto the next lesson where she encourages you to draw your own face. sigh.
This is not so much fun.
I do not have a 30 year old face. Or even a 40 year old face. 50 is just a memory and now I'm in the middle of my 60th decade and let me tell you, the invention of digital camera is fun for computer use, but not so much fun when you need a blurry version of yourself.

I remember, fondly, my first Kodak Instamatic. Point, shoot, instant flash if needed and then you send the roll away and you get 24 or 36 softly blurred images as memory keepers. Those were the good old days and I didn't even need it then. I was young. My face was unlined and thin and my skin glowed with youth!

Now, however, I have an amazing digital camera that is brilliant at capturing tons of photos one after the other and not one costs me a penny. I can shoot hundreds and still not fill up my 2 Gigabite SD card. If I want a copy of any photo, I print it out at home or have them uploaded at Snapfish and get prints for .09 cents each - a special deal...

But try, just TRY to get a soft focus shot of an old face. Grrrrr. I finally resorted to using the "diffuse glow" option on my photo editing software and after playing with it for 90 minutes, I got about 12 photos that I wasn't afraid to look at. Sheesh.
This first photo is diffused and glowing, but softly. I had to jiggle it so my face wouldn't disappear altogether.

(Digital image)

After lunch I got out my Polaroid camera and took about 10 photos of my face an arms length away. I was on the porch and it was a sunny day, so the photos were not flashed, but boy oh boy were they blurry! My arms are just not long enough for the 3 foot focus of that camera.
Having lunch settled me.
I decided to try to do a portrait, so I printed out a few of the photos that I had fooled around with and sat down with my pencil and paper.
Guess what. There was just not enough detail to get a fix on my chin.
So, I went back to my computer and took another look at all the photos I had taken earlier in the day. I had shots coming from all kinds of angles. Up close, 3/4, full front, left side, right side, smiling, teeth, no teeth, frowns, surprise!, dreamy and whatever mood I could think of to describe what was happening on my face.
How and when did my nose get so Big!?
What I realized right then was, I had some really good photos of a face. Just a face. OK, so for now it is my face, but so what? It's something to draw and someone I know. I was suddenly glad for all those pictures. I was happy with them. I felt good inside. And, I don't know why. Something inside me had changed from before lunch to after lunch. I was OKAY with these pictures and I was going to use them as is.
I printed out a bunch, thank goodness I had figured out how to set my digital camera to black and white setting, and I sat down again at my drawing pad.

(First Self Portrait)

This is what happened.
It's a near likeness. Maybe only I can see it, but it is my first self portrait. I am going to trust that it is OK. I am going to be happy with it just as it is and I am finding out that "diffuse glow" comes from within.
Who knew?


Jackie said...

I love your self portrait and the way you captured yourself. Looking youthful is nice ,yes, but i wouldn't trade the maturity that comes with age. I can't wait to hear about your class as you go through it.By the way, I love your pics, I think we women are way to harsh with ourselves but you gotta love that photo editing...LOL

Adrian said...

Thank you Jackie! It will be interesting to see if/how I change as I practice this drawing stuff. It's intimidating! But, it's also just a pencil and some paper, so I just gotta get over it already!