Here it is – the final illustration in the series. Oddly enough, I am ending the series with a drawing based on a photo I know literally nothing about. Pinterest suggested it to me and I liked it so decided to add it to my list of images for this project. What I liked about it was the woman’s bone structure, the big hair, and her spectacles. I have worn glasses almost my entire life so am very familiar with them but drawing spectacles remains a challenge for me. I eliminated the floral decoration on her dress. The asymmetry of it appealed to me but it was just too fussy in the composition.
When I embarked on this challenge, I had a few objectives I hoped to fulfil. I wanted to restrict my colour palette to monochrome and I found I actually really enjoyed working within that limitation; I hoped to get better at layering ink and watercolour and I definitely think I have gotten better at using more delicate, transparent layers and building them up; I also, of course, wanted to hone my drawing skills and, even more so, I really wanted to develop and strengthen my illustration style. If you have read my blog for any length of time you will know that I perpetually ponder whether I have an identifiable style or whether I flit around too much. I think this series has finally driven it into my brain that, yes, I actually do have a distinctive drawing style. Mission accomplished then.
Now on to the next challenge. I will be sharing all of my Drawlloween illustrations on here next. Stay tuned.
This is the penultimate drawing in the series, drawn on the left side of the final page in my notebook. I could have kept this series going for years and, who knows, maybe it is a source of inspiration that I will return to in the future. Anyway, for this drawing I pivoted back to early photography and chose a daguerreotype from the 1850s. I know nothing about this photo, not the photographer or the sitter, but I liked her sad expression with those tilting eyebrows and the elaborate bonnet with its woven straw and its ribbons. I think I caught something of her sorrowful gaze but I should have made her mouth a little more downturned. The bonnet was definitely fun to draw.
I returned to the web page of vintage Australian mugshots for the next illustration in the series. I wanted to find a mugshot with attitude in order to share the page with Goldie Williams. What I found was the portrait of Esther Eggers, a young woman who attacked a police officer during her arrest. There was something in her pursed lip smile, the curve of her cheek, and the directness of her gaze that suggested a complete lack of repentance and maybe even some self-satisfaction. While my illustration looks nothing like Ms Eggers, I have hopefully captured something of the spirit that made me select the image.
I am almost at the end of my sketchbook so this particular project of mine is drawing to a close. I, therefore, wanted to cram in more vintage mugshots. I absolutely had to draw Goldie Williams (alias Meg Murphy). I thought drawing her wrinkled nose and pouting mouth would be a fun challenge but mostly I just wanted to capture her feisty, defiant attitude. Being arrested is obviously neither fun nor funny but this mugshot tickled me. I didn’t draw her facial features quite screwed up enough but I think I caught the right energy so I am happy with the drawing.
I was in search of another Depression era mother and baby photo to pair with the previous illustration, because of them sharing a page, and I picked the photo based on the vibe of the mother and the pixie face of her baby. I cannot find out anything about the photo, not even the identity of the photographer, but the Library of Congress indicates that the subject was a flood refugee in Missouri. With the caveat that I am definitely not a portraitist, I am pretty happy with how this illustration turned out. I think I captured something of the set of the mother’s jaw, her pursed lips, but it’s the baby’s face that just makes me smile and laugh. I took that pixie quality and really leaned into it so that I could fully believe that his child is a mischievous imp frustrated that he is being held because he wants to get off and destroy stuff.
After two duff illustrations in a row, I was on a quest to redeem myself with this next drawing in the series. I selected another mother and baby photo. Those have cropped up a lot in this project but at least this one is not based on a Dorothea Lange photo. The photo was taken on the Natchez Trace by Carl Mydans and I otherwise know nothing about it. The baby looks rather derpy in a borderline creepy way but I am otherwise pleased with how this drawing turned out. I think I have captured enough of the look and expression of the mother for me to feel like I have redeemed myself and gotten back on track.
I opted to draw the portrait of Mrs Poland – a photo taken by Arthur Rothstein – because she just seemed so proud of her preserved foods. I knew I did not want to draw all of those shelves filled with pickles and preserves because, aside from anything else, I did not have time for it. I decided, however, to surround the figure with a dark wash of Payne’s Grey in place of that background and I almost instantly regretted it. The other thing that went wrong with this drawing was I have made Mrs Poland look stressed. I was especially disappointed by this as I had hoped to capture the warmth of her smile. Maybe it was because I was feeling tired and frazzled that I subconsciously drew her face looking a bit stricken and her smile looking like the “fake it ’til you make it” type. On the positive side, I am pleased with the hands.
I wanted to draw another teenage girl next because I wanted that thematic connection between the other drawing on the page, that of the Appalachian girl. I chose a photo of a Cajun girl taken by Marion Post Wolcott because I thought the strong lighting and especially the strong shadows on the face would present me with a challenge. I definitely found handling the range of tones very difficult, as you can see. I went simultaneously too dark and not dark enough when it comes to the shadows across the face and I think it is best I not write anything at all about the awfulness of that raised hand. Oh dear. I am definitely experiencing ups and downs with this series of drawings.
This is what the teenage pair look like on the sketchbook page.
In search of a portrait with a specific facial expression, I settled on a photo of a girl in Appalachian Kentucky taken by William Gedney. I was familiar with the image but realized I knew nothing about it. I had assumed the portrait dated from the 1940s or ’50s but it was actually taken in the mid-1960s making it one of the most recent, if not the most recent, photos I have used as inspiration in this series of drawings.
I was hoping to capture the girl’s attitude in my illustration. She seems self-assured but defensive, her eyes are engaging the viewer but her crossed arms are distancing. I did not get the set of her jaw right, that somewhat pugilistic expression she has, but I like the drawing nevertheless.
Approximately a dozen drawings ago, I chose to draw a Gordon Parks photo of three boys. I was frustrated by and dissatisfied with the outcome and it had been nipping my head ever since that I wanted to attempt a do-over. I did not, however, elect to draw the same photo again. What I determined I should do was select another vintage photo portraying three children. I found a portrait of three sisters wearing identical clothing that presented me with a challenge in terms of composition, just as the Gordon Parks image had. I really enjoyed creating this illustration. Perhaps I was just in a better mood this time and my creative mojo was flowing better as a result. Whatever the cause, I was happy with the final drawing and felt I had redeemed myself.