This image was taken, indirectly, from a great black-and-white photograph. It was from a book of photos and essays about music festivals. I no longer own the book; I can’t remember the title. This woman was one of a group of people attending an outdoor concert. I loved the lines of the lawn chair, the look of boredom on the woman’s face, the heavy handbag in her lap. I made several drawings from the photograph.
When taking inspiration – or imagery – from the work of another, the key is to make it your own. That can be accomplished by using the image simply as a jumping-off point, injecting your own sensibility or style, varying materials or perspective. There are examples of this in the many different images of “The Birth of Venus,” and in the hundreds of tongue-in-cheek spin-offs of the “Mona Lisa.”
With this particular image, I tackled the issue by making a multitude of drawings. Some singled out this woman; others were of the entire group. Many were black-and-white, as the original photo was, but even in that narrow realm, I tried charcoal, graphite and pen and ink. The best image I accomplished was done in soft graphite pencil with light touches of Prismacolor accents. Eventually, I set the original photograph aside, and made drawings with my own drawing as the subject. Like the telephone game (“here’s a whispered secret, pass it on!”), the farther from the original it gets, the more the image distorts and takes on a character all its own.
This drawing is done with colored pencil on soft black paper. It’s not one of my best. There is no sense of the weight of handbag or breasts; the expression is pinched and bland; the shadows aren’t strong enough to ground the image in its space. The book, with the original photo, is gone, as are the many images I drew from it. It would be fun to see them all lined up side-by-side. I have a feeling this drawing would be so far removed from the original, it would be impossible to cite its origins.