My Art Story and Classic Actress Caricature Series process so far
A few months ago, I started a new art series of Caricatures based on Classic Movie Actresses. I am a big fan of caricature ever since an artist at a fair back in the late 80s, drew a caricature of me. I was 15 at the time and was doing art for most of my life, well since I was 5. I didn't have a style you can say just yet. I did three things well- Drawing eyes and taking any piece and copying it in any size you wanted it to be. I also knew that I loved to draw female portraits. I wanted the male character's job in 1980's Xanadu. I wanted to help design album covers or recreate them in large forms or smaller. I won a few art contests back then and even one presented to me on TV! Then in the 90's, I saw a documentary on the late and great caricaturist Al Hirshfeld. I was hooked after that. I studied him and others. I recreated by hand and no tracing this huge Life magazine drawing of Hollywood featuring over 50 actors. That was really fun to do. Then I attempted to do myself as a caricature and a few family members. That was fun as well. After having a bad experience in art college, drawing nudes for 3 hours, photography, studying the greats, painting still life, etc. I left. Let's just say it was very tough for me. So I just drew for my own personal enjoyment and went onto other things.
Fast forward to 2011, I discovered digital art. I was already well acquainted with making animated gifs, elaborate desktop wallpapers, designs, etc. But digital art really caught my attention. So with a Wacom tablet and Photoshop, I started practicing. I painted some designs and then painted the butterfly aura from Psylocke onto a picture of mines. This gave birth to my Comic book Female Portraits Series. That series was such a learning experience for me. With each portrait, I felt my skills were getting stronger. I loved the use of color like you have no idea. I found that the skills I had as an traditional artist really helped me in this area. I still had no problems doing eyes or hair which are my absolute favorite things to draw ever but only on a woman. I've always been attracted to a woman's beauty. Women are such beautiful creatures. But her face is what always drew me in. Especially through the eyes and I've been drawing eyes forever. Always the first thing I doodle when I start something is the eyes. Plus its so much fun to sketch or paint a woman because of the merriment you can have with coloring, the hair, the clothes, the jewelry. I was proud of the series, that I even started selling prints of it, a book, calendars, etc.
At the end of that series, I was spent. I had no more in me to do. I missed the feeling of holding a pencil to paper. I missed getting my hands dirty with charcoal or paints. So I went crazy gathering new traditional art supplies and looking for inspiration. I wanted to experience it all again, so I started with combinations of colored and graphite pencils, pastels, watercolors, markers and charcoal. Through the experience, I learned that I needed more work using colored pencils. I also learned that water coloring is very enjoyable. I never used watercolors before, I've only worked with oils in the past so I loved how you can control the flow of color. It also surprised me how when working with water, it was quite relaxing. It gave me a overall calm feeling. I would definitely recommend it to anyone starting out. I even introduced it to my nephew who water colored so far the map of Isla Nublar from Jurassic Park and the Titanic!
In the midst of my traditional art frenzy, I came across a 8 x 10 glossy of Marilyn Monroe that I've had since the 90's. I decided I was going to do it in watercolors. So I started like I always do, with the eyes. I've always felt that if I can get the likeness of the eyes right, then I can envision what the rest of the portrait is going to look like. Once I got her eyes, I noticed something. I thought maybe I can exaggerate the rest of her face; play with the lines, broaden her forehead, elongate her neck. All things I digested by studying caricatures. And once I did, a wave of calm washed over me. What I now call, a art high. I felt a sense of peacefulness that I've never experience before in my pieces. Usually I am very happy with a portrait once its done. I feel good about it which is the most important thing in art. Its important to love what you do despite what others may think. But this high I felt was different than just finishing a portrait. I felt a sense of deep satisfaction and pleasure. A sense that I've finally found my art groove. I was taken aback on how fast the Marilyn piece went. Once I did her eyes, the rest just fell into place quickly. I say it took me about 4 hours to complete. She was done on Canson watercolor paper with Derwent graphite pencils. I had on in the background the film King Kong.
Then I started my Clara Bow. Now Miss. Bow has the most alluring eyes you can imagine, so I knew I had to get her eyes just right. Unfortunately, the one thing that never gives me a problem, the eyes, did! I must've worked on her eyes for 4 hours. I wanted them to be just right. I worked from a glossy B/W portrait of her from the Leading Ladies book I got from the 90's. I already knew where the exaggerations where going to be but her eyes gave me the most problems. Who knew? lol So there goes the calming, peaceful feeling you say? No, I was frustrated but I never gave up. I knew once I got the eyes, I would be fine. So I finally got them the way I saw it in my head and the rest of her took about 2 more hours to do. She was done on Canson Watercolor paper on Smooth side with Derwent Graphite pencil and prismacolor pencil for the lip.
Lastly, we come to my Audrey Hepburn caricature. I thought I'd changed things up and start with her body instead of the eyes. Wrong!!!! lol. By doing that, I kept messing up! I worked from a portrait online that everyone has done of hers. I just couldn't get the pose right. Lesson learned, start with what you know! lol. So after 2 hours of playing around with her body, I erased the whole thing and did her eyes. Once I got going with her facial features, I felt that same wave of pleasure come upon me. The rest just fell into place. I used Canson Watercolor paper, Derwent pencils, Artist's Loft Colored Pencil and a tortillion for blending. My next caricature I have planned is Greta Garbo. I love Garbo and was excited to start on her, but life gets in the way sometimes and you lose that mojo. So I am hopeful that it will come back because I've finally found pleasure in my art and I also want to improve as always. I'm hoping to do complete 24 portraits in this series. Thank you all for the support and likes on my art. I wanted all to know, they don't go unnoticed or unappreciated.