We’ve had a cold snap here this week and I’ve been inside the last couple of days with a cold. I dug through drawings from last winter and found this one. I was in a streetcar that was crawling through traffic when i saw a man who looked like he couldn’t wait for the light to change so he could move away from the young woman behind him.
I noticed them walking ahead of me just as I was at the steps of the office. They were both tall with broad shoulders and a slightly lumbering gait. They seemed perfect together. I wanted to capture them in a less literal way than usual so this was a first stab at that – more colour, less form (still came out more literal than I wanted).
Afterwards, I decided to see what it would look like if I forgot about trying to depict them in anatomical form altogether and just thought about their energy – a surprisingly abstract result – would like to figure out how to work somewhere in between.
The metal rod in his hand didn’t have a ring to it. Some metals have a bright tinkle to them; this sounded like it was made of lead. Still, it was definitely “Jingle Bells” being tapped out in tuneless, flat thuds against the street lamp. I walked past, inhaling his cigar smoke and singing the song in my head.
I looked it up. Apparently, crying can make you feel cold. Or at least, there are people out there who say that they feel cold after crying, and who’ve posted on different sites asking why that is. I didn’t find any answers – at least none based on research (I didn’t look very hard either). Maybe the young man is one of those people. He certainly kept repeating his warning – and the little girl kept wailing. I wonder if his words will stay with her whenever she cries.
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.