Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Taking a break from Sarah

After many days of feeling that I was finished with my most recent piece, this morning I hit upon an addition I wanted to make -- and now it really does feel finished. So it's off to the photographer's, and once I get the professional digital image I'll post the actual, final version. (As a result, I renamed my last post "Stage Seven", rather than "Final".

For Sarah Emma Edmonds II, I will be working with the stage of her life where she creates and adopts her new, male identity. I have a visual image of a shady pine forest that I think will play a strong role as a setting for this piece, since Sarah Emma travelled by night and hid in the woods by day, until she had grown accustomed to her new identity. Beyond that, I have some research and brainstorming to do. So in the meantime, I've begun a large -- 24" x 24" -- close-up portrait of Frederick Douglass. I've already completed portraits of Harriet Beecher Stowe and John Brown, two key players in the anti-slavery movement; they may be viewed on my website at http://www.civilwarfineart.com/. But as passionate as they were for the abolitionist cause, their experiences would have been very different from those of a man who had been born into slavery and managed to escape its bonds to become a dynamic and eloquent abolitionist speaker.

There are many photographic images of Frederick Douglass, and I am nearly finished with a small piece depicting him in his later years. But for my large portrait I wanted to focus on a much earlier image, taken in the 1850's, at about the same time he would have met with John Brown in Chambersburg, PA, to discuss Brown's plan of an attack on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. This image shows a much more intense, almost fiery expression in Douglass' eyes, and it is the eyes that I believe will be key to the success of this portrait.

I am working on Gessobord again, and began by doing an underpainting of watercolor pencil sprayed with water and allowed to drip. The basic drawing has been laid over top using a Tuscan Red Prismacolor Artstix.

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