With a question mark, here I am.  I took this photo to create a drapery I could draw à l’Ingres.  My being present technically makes this a self-portrait.  But I’m really just along for the ride.  The drapery is the star.  Beginning artists should make lots of drapery studies.  The old masters started the idea, and it holds more weight than at first one supposes.  Drapery in portraiture defines the figure.  Of course, times were better for artists when flowing robes were the fashion!  Ever since the decline of Athens, artists have fallen on hard times.  Praxiteles, we miss you!  I jest, of course.

Drapery is also this very pliable thing.  Look what crazy Gothic artists did with drapery.  Drapery is an inanimate subject whose amorphous forms can adapt very readily to whatever subliminal messages an artist — or a whole society– is trying to express.  It is very “true” and “realistic” and yet it is thoroughly “abstract” and sometimes conventional.

Drawing drapery leads one naturally into landscape or figure or still life.  It’s an artistic Rorschach test, a mirror of the psyche.  You draw the drapery and reveal — yikes! — the self.

Meanwhile, I’ll have to get back to you when I’ve done my drawings from this photo.

[Top of the post:  Drapery study, by Aletha Kuschan, digital photo]

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One thought on “Here I really am?

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