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Monday, June 06, 2005

You know you're a diehard Internet surfer when you start to memorise the different keyboard shortcuts for your Firefox browser. (0_0) Win liao...

In a more artistic mood... I started to think about


People usually think that the hardest thing about portraiture is drawing the different features of the person. Actually, they could be wrong. The hardest thing about portraiture is actually making YOUR portrait look like the person you're drawing.

Does it sound like the same thing? Not exactly, actually.

To draw the features of the person concerns technical skill. If you want to draw, for eg, the nose of your subject, follow the contours of the nose and repeat the same lines on your paper.

Ironically enough, you may find that even though your lines are correct, the face that you've drawn on paper doesn't resemble the person you are drawing at all. You've captured the lines of the person, but not her personality. This is the hard part of portraiture. To make sure that your portrait is immediately identifiable.

I saw an example of this a few years back, when my friends and I went to the career fair at Suntec. [I forgot which one now] The booth housing a local arts institution [er, in case I get sued for defamation, I shall not say which one, suffice that they're the more ang moh pai one. You go guess which one] had a couple of its students there doing caricature portraits for a few bucks, so my friend and her bf decided to go try.

The result......................... well it wasn't exactly the standard I was expecting from students of that institution. (^^!)

But thinking about it, maybe this was the same problem with the portrait in the first place. The student drawing it only looked at my friend on the surface, and drew what she saw there. Not only that, but my friend and bf were required to hold a fixed smile for the time the portrait was being drawn. Of course they're not going to look natural lah!

And most importantly, they missed the little things of my friend that were unique to her and her alone. Her funky sense of dress, her bright, white smile, and her love for dance. Without those, the cartoon portrait could have been of anyone else in the street.

So technical skill isn't always everything in art. If I were to simply draw a picture of a woman's face, no one would particularly recognise this as anyone.


But if I were to add more detail to the portrait, like clothing and accessories, and add in some colour [to make it nicer mah :p] the portrait becomes instantly recognizable to those who know the subject of the portrait. [or rather, it should lah, to the subject's friends anyway (^^!) If still not, then I really failed big time at this (^^!)]

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman

Note: For background info in the production of this piece, click on the pic to go to the flickr photo page.

Now the picture becomes not just of a woman caught in surprise, she becomes a picture of someone caught in surprise. She is not just an anonymous subject anymore, she has become recognizable to those who know her. Ah, you start to get the idea? ;)

Which is why, whenever people do caricatures of portraits, they usually draw some other detail to make the subject recognizable to others, even if the skill in the portrait is low. [like mine. (^^!)] A girl who loves dolls will be drawn in a sea of Barbies. A guy who likes cars will be drawn driving one. My friend who loves acting will be drawn as a starving actor. [yea, you know who you are. :p]

So to draw really good portraits, you can't just rely on technical skill. You have to know your subject as a person, and bring that through in your piece. :)

Ok, artistic mood over...

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