The other day I saw an older man on the streetcar with pale age spots on his face. He seemed to be a regular kind of guy, looking intently out the window so that he didn’t miss his stop. When I got home, I did a quick sketch and then finished the portrait by digitally colouring it. I couldn’t remember his eyes or his mouth, or really anything about him except that he was balding and had age spots. And maybe a nose that was a little bulbous at the end. I was working quickly and intuitively.
It was a surprise to see what came out – something more sinister than what I thought I saw on the streetcar. Or maybe just more damaged. Makes me wonder where images come from. Did my subconscious sense something that wasn’t visible to the eye? Or was it my mood at the time that I worked on this (not that I remember anything unusual about it), or something in my environment – some stress, some news item – that influenced how the portrait turned out? I don’t have answers, but since I do portraits from impressions or from my imagination (as opposed to using sitters), I might start paying a bit more attention to this.