And his spectacular jersey
A couple of my friends (or rather two of my friends, who happen to be married) have been captivated by my drawings for years - and pull faces every time I mention that I probably won't draw anything again soon; I had in fact given up drawing to paint 6 years ago, haven't picked up a pencil in all that time, and why would I?
Well I would, if commissioned. And so I was. (2007 Marike would be so surprised)
Ina's parents love art, have been collecting for years, and own a couple of beautiful specimens. And she's been telling me forever about their love for art, and how they'd most certainly love my work, etc. And so, with her dad's 60th birthday coming up, I was called upon to immortalise (as many have done before me) classic Einstein (as opposed to sticking-out-his-tongue-Einstein)
Naturally I stalled for quite a while, having not attempted a drawing in so long, I had no idea whether it would come to me easily, I'd forgotten all the tricks, I even had to stock up on pencils, putty erasers and even paper from scratch (initially buying a whole pad of the wrong paper of course - terrible yellowy textured stuff, impossible to even hint at detail on)
And my time away really showed, I started out drawing the eyes, and having done that, had no idea where to go from there, how do you work on the left side without smudging the right, everything was terribly unplanned and, well, unexpectedly fun.
The wonderful thing about drawing is the instant gratification, its there, its done, and you can move on.. when I paint there's none of that, there's too much to focus on, and I work in layer upon layer, sometimes having no idea how to move on, or how far any part is from completion, until it surprises me.
The drawing took a week, and I am quite satisfied with it - re-learnt many lessons, keeping the white bits white being the most important, planning ahead, and taking it slow (in painting I tend to think it's fine, I'll come back later to fix it, and that isn't always an option in drawings)
The other thing I found out, was that during my break from drawing, a period of 6 years of continuous painting, I had really learned to 'look', I found it so much easier to spot detail, and figure out what to do where, because of the 6 years of improvement. I am an avid believer in (if you're going for anything remotely realistic) it being more about learning to look, than it is about learning to paint. The more you see, the more you can paint, if you don't see the different hues in skin tone, you can't paint them, and the more you see, the more depth you can create, the more detail you can add, the better the realism. (I know, it's not all about the realism, but let's not get into that today!) And I could immediately see the difference when I started drawing, it had just become so much easier. Almost a relaxing experience, after a painting.
The reasons I dropped drawing for painting was - first - because so many of my friends (who know nothing about the art industry) told me that I'd never earn a living from drawings, the cash is in paintings - and secondly, and more importantly - I felt as if I couldn't really express anything of myself in drawings, I was possibly better (then anyway) at pencil work, but I was basically just trying to see how well I could copy a photo, and that's not really the artists way! In paintings there are so many ways of putting yourself in the work (not counting blood sweat and tears).
Since then however, the distance from my drawings has showed me that there is a style to my drawings, and while it will never take the place of my paintings, it isn't something I should be hiding from the world. And so, without any further ado, Einstein, and his lovely jersey: