Friday, July 06, 2012

Sitting For A Portrait

A few weeks ago, as I travelled back to PA on a Arts Roadtrip, I spent two days in Rock Hill, SC with the folks from Friday Arts Project. They asked me to sit for their portrait drawing group. I said yes.

I perched in a chair and stared at the wall behind their heads. I tried not to move very much. Two of them worked with pencil and paper. Three worked on their computers. We talked a little bit and listened to This American Life.

The first few moments were self conscious ones. Five people with their focus and eyes scanning and rescanning and plotting my face through their minds and into their hands. When my eyes would stray from the wall, I would meet their eyes and be startled by how focused they were. They were seeing me but not seeing me. They were noting and observing and making something from it. I wondered what they were learning from studying my face or if they were more interested in the angle of my facial structure than anything else. But these were questions you don't ask a group of artists knee deep in their craft.

And then the feeling wore off. It was like dancing at a competition, the audience both there and not there, when you finally get yourself settled in your belly and not flitting around the corners of the room or shrinking from a judge's gaze.

My view. I stared at unique bump on the wall between Stephen and Seth's head.

Five artists worked during the two hours. Below are three examples of what they saw and made. In writing, one has to change what is seen in order to both adapt to ones abilities and to express something other than the model for the work. That is what fiction and poetry and non-fiction all do. They change things. So going for the closest to "a photo of Dana" isn't the point. I loved how all of these were so different!

By "Professor Seth"

S. Crotts Illustration
Matt Andrews @mandraws