Monday, February 21, 2011

A little bit of love for Hannah goes a long way - Daddy's Girl

Hannah Neurotica is a talent to be reckoned with, and for good reason. She's the brains and beauty behind Ax Wound Zine - a self-published zine that showcases and investigates the issues of gender, sex, and horror, as well as taking to the air waves with Zine Core Radio and Ax Wound Radio. She's also one of the strongest voices for feminism in the horror genre, establishing February as Women in Horror Recognition Month. I even made her a bit of "fan art" a while back which you can check out by clicking here. She's an extraordinary women and one I consider a friend.

A cultured writer and social philanthropist Hannah is always eager to lend a helping hand to a worthwhile cause, using her voice to champion the efforts of those most often overlooked. I wanted to show my appreciation to Hannah with a piece of artwork, one with a personal touch. Her father passed away not long ago and their relationship was quite strong as you can imagine. I wanted to pass along my interpretation of a fond memory, and I started with this old photograph from her childhood.

As you can tell it's an older photograph, and I'm sure a bit blurry from scanning it, but this is the happy moment I hoped to capture. The first thing I would have to do is go in and divide the piece into sharp lines for reconstruction. I started out on Bristol board with pencil.

 Sketched out like this, you can tell I need a bit more practice with my figure drawing, but it's hard to find fault in a labor of love. Here I roughed out a bit more of a close-up to factor out the background that I couldn't discern, plus this puts more focus on the individuals. Once I was happy with my pencil marks I went in and outlined it all in black pen and erased my lines.

  I decided to try something new with this piece - water color pencils. I recently received a set for Christmas and put them to use. They color just like a normal pencil, but you have the ability to add water and blend to an enhanced quality not entirely offered by regular watercolors. The difficulty here was creating a realistic skin tone. I had to build this layer by layer and factor in how it would all blend.

 I used a combination of black and brown for the hair, curious how it would blend and hopeful that some of the line work would stay after adding water. I added a bit more red to perk up the color in the face and lips and filled in the eyes.

 I free-handed the pattern on Hannah's dress, hoping to mirror what I could make out from the photo. It's probably not the best representation but it helps fill in the void of white from before.

 Next was just adding more color, but I started to fear that it wouldn't quite look right when I began to blend.

 At a happy stopping point, I began to blend with just a brush and water. The hues I had shaped before blended nicely in the face. Not too bad for only having red, orange, and yellow to work with for a flesh tone.

 I had to be careful to follow within the lines and to not go over the designated areas that were to be lighter than others. I still wanted to factor in light and shadows in with the blending. In retrospect I would also use a pen that wasn't water soluble. There were a few instances were the ink would run, but I was pretty careful throughout.

 I also blended some of the flowers on Hannah's shirt which dulled down the sharpness and faded out how terrible I am at drawing flowers. I was quite pleased with the hair, as I blended it did keep the harsh lines I drew in before.

 Here I began to retouch some of the ink and blend in some other areas, particularly along the hairlines, eyes, and lips.

To make the piece "pop" a bit more I decided to use a touch of black Sharpie to outline the figures. This couple with the pen lines offers a nice duality and small touches like eye lashes. To pop it even further I decided to add a blue, halo like background to draw in the eye and match Hannah's dress. This was done by simply taking a blue water color pencil and drawing along the edge of the hair and blending outward with water.

All in all I'm happy with this piece, especially for working with a new medium. I definitely need to work on figure drawing, but it's not bad from a 20+ year old photograph. I wanted this piece to look like a caricticure you'd buy off a sidewalk artist filled with hand drawn whimsy after a day out on adventure. It's not a world class portrait, nor was that what I was aiming for, but instead I found a happy middle ground of almost cartoony yet still purely recognizable. I wanted to capture a moment of glee and wonder when all was right with the world. I hope it will serve as a remembrance of good times had, not to be forgotten. I like to think that Hannah's father instilled in her the wonderful spirit that exudes from her to this day. I hope that this token of friendship serves that spirit well.

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