Early last year I planted some tiny little seeds. The bloomed weeks later producing beautiful and colorful portraits which I really enjoyed working on. This was a personal project I would really like to expand on sometime soon, not only as graphite portraits but with other mediums as well.
These works were inspired in the Panamanian conga pollera. Beautiful, strong and colorful part of our Isthmian heritage and folklore.
The following posts will take you through the process of creating this series.
As I re-imagined and re-interpreted how portraits are presented and how I communicated the faces that inspire me, I began to experiment with colored paper and colored pencils. The images which resulted in this were six small portraits of women with different hairstyles, different features and different energies. Similar in essence to the Portraits of Black Women series I look into how we identify as black women and how those identities are presented to others.
To read the original post and see the complete series you can click here.
This series is dear to me for many reasons. For one, it is full of mistakes. It was supposed to be a larger series but ended up being only three collages out of which only one I feel is good enough to show. I explored, briefly, the concept of deconstructing images we are used to seeing in a whole.
My profile has always made me uncomfortable. I would stare at my reflection in the mirror wondering if there was anything I could do about my features. Change them, improve them somehow. I wasn’t pleased for many years but grew to love my face. There is such beauty in profiles.
Honestly, I love this series. It made me fall in love with graphite all over again. These portraits are inspired by vintage photography, photographs of the early 19th century to be exact. Images from this time make me feel nostalgic for a time when things seemed simpler. But in a way it also feels personal, even when we know nothing at all about the subject. It feels like their souls are being captured. It feels like their eyes speak to the observer. The simplicity of the background. the focus on the person being photographed. It all creates an aura of mystery around the persona.
In a time of selfies and random self portraits it aids in appreciating (at least in my opinion) the past and in embracing a modern practice. And how we empower ourselves to document our existence and tell our own stories rather than being documented by others.
I believe this series I wrote the most on. Many things on my mind as I was developing this series. You can read each one of those posts by clicking on the titles which follow.
Having a steady pace at the studio has a been a challenge this week. Been getting myself organized and tackling tasks that have been pending for a while. I’ll be sharing some of my older artwork as I explore some minor projects and get re-acquainted with the series I’ve been developing since late last year.
In the meantime, here’s a process photo of the second piece in this series.