Back to the Past

The previous module of the Visual and Spatial Representation sessions targeted living in the present and observing inhabitants and people around me. However, the latest VSR module made me reminisce the past and emphasize on myself and my co-habitants from when I was nine or ten years old i.e. a decade ago. Here, unlike VSR1 where my portraits and body studies were based off of live observational sketching, I was highly dependent on information that revealed itself through decade old photographs. This module was split into three parts- portraits, body studies and spatial profiles.

As mentioned earlier, I went from being very sceptical about sketching portraits to gladly embracing my skills at the same, and the recent VSR sessions have only made my fondness for sketching portraits grow. What was different this time around was that contrary to before where my subject was dynamic, all the information I was receiving about the person I intended to sketch was purely through photographs. Personally, I found portrait sketching easier this time around because since the subject was stationary, there was consistency in the form, orientation of features, and impact of light and shadow in these portraits. Furthermore, due to constant practice over the past couple weeks, my portraits had only gotten better and I was able to capture more details in the same time frame as before.

Self Portrait: A monochromatic portrait of myself from around a decade ago. Medium: hybrid pencil.
Portrait: A monochromatic portrait of my relative observed through a decade-old photograph. Medium: color pencil.
Portrait: A portrait of my mother as seen in a photograph dating roughly ten years back in time. Medium: colour pencils.

Just like sketching portraits, I continued with body studies too in the same fashion i.e. sketching through photographs. Again, stationary muses proved to be more advantageous for me as compared to live sketching for the same reasons.

Body Studies: Sketching different body profiles and postures as seen in the photos. Medium: white gel pen on black chart paper.

A new type of sketching by the term ‘spatial profiles’ was introduced to me this time. Spatial profiles are sketches where only the outlines of the spaces and furniture are drawn, and the tiny details are left out. Focusing primarily on the outlines helped me understand form, scale and relative proportions better. I drew all the profiles predominantly out of memory which required me to travel back in time to complete the room beyond what the photograph is showing. Since my personal sketching style involved the technique of making multiple strokes for a single line, making a single line drawing proved tough to me as my hand was not accustomed to doing so. Nevertheless, I was able to bring out the nature and proportions of the spaces inhabited in the photos through these sketches.

Spatial Profiles: Single line drawings of the spaces inhabited by the person in the photograph. Medium: graphite.

In comparison to the previous Visual and Spatial Representation sketches, I also found the courage to explore more mediums this time and watch my blank canvas come to life using multiple tools. This was the first time I had sketched with a white pen on black paper and used a single medium of color pencils to sketch a portrait, and I was very satisfied with the outcomes in both these cases. I also used new techniques of squiggling and layering of cross hatches for a couple of sketches. This impetus of courage and inspiration derived by the work done by my peers truly helped me hone my sketching skills further.

At every stage of this exercise, I looked at each photograph and reminisced the happy memories attached to all of them. I paused to reflect that though people and places have changed now, the memories created in those moments were captured in these pictures, which I then relived while drawing out these sketches. Sketching is indeed a powerful medium of expression, and with the right intention and skills, even an aid to travel back in time.  

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