Etching by Sketching Childhood

The past two weeks were spent in recollecting memories of my childhood through photographs of a decade old. The captured memories were re-presented through the very elements that brought life to it- people. The diverse range of captured memories were expressed through: sketching portraits of people that paid attention to the facial expression captured when the camera clicked; body postures that studied the response of the body in various scenarios; and spatial profiles that outlined the recollection of entirety of the space within which the moment was lived.

Already, two weeks were spent in practicing portraits and body stances. So, I was prepped and confident to undertake the coming journey. Having adapted to analysing and drawing facial and bodily expressions, the practice allowed my hand to freely move across the paper to trace these expressions, unlike the previous time. Thus, the comfort developed in sketching reflected in the strokes of each sketch, which consequently reduced the time spent on it.

Portraits had always been a sore subject of drawing for me. But, the outcome of continuous practice of it along these week have marveled me. The continuous practice of it allowed to subconsciously recognise and use the proportions of human face, such as ensure the alignment of the eye with the top of ear or the profile of the parts when viewed from different angles. Having developed an ease for arriving at the basic structure of the face sooner, I used the opportunity to explore different mediums to render the same: some for aesthetics, some for the texture, and some to express the tonal variations on the face when exposed to light.

Monochromatic portrait– The portrait is done using short line strokes that has varying intensity to create depth.
Colour Portrait: Abstract representation: The eclectic color scheme was chosen to achieve a hypothetical and aesthetic visualisation while the strokes do not compromise on highlighting the features of the face.

But, the background of this exercise, which emphasised on studying childhood photos, added another dimension of information to decipher. While looking back at the facial structure of the same people that I am acquainted with now, I could recognise the variation that occurred over the years and sometimes that also influenced the drawing. For instance, my friends has a sharp jawline now, but that wasn’t the case a decade back. So, I initially tended to draw her current profile , but as I focused on drawing purely from observation, I was able to notice how and which features have changed while others remained.

Zooming out to consider the whole body, postures of various people were sketched from the photographs. Use of still pictures to study the postures were relatively easy as it allowed to take one’s own time to observe how every joint and muscle of the body reacted while attaining a posture. However, the choice of time period, during the childhood, allowed to explore in different age groups as well, from those of my younger self to my grandparents. Furthermore, I could recognise and replicate the different body language in relation to the context. One could notice in the below images the manner in which the casualness of the body while sitting on the sofa changes while playing a sport.

Study of Body Postures: Through the sketches, I discovered how the body language changes naturally to suit to the different occasions.

Spatial Profiles were created to recollect the setting in which the photographs were taken, and thus develop the view beyond what is visible in the photographs. The level of visualisation of spaces that were experienced about 10 years ago was tested, and it was surprising to notice the extent of memory to retain experiences. While I was able to sketch almost twice the space covered within the frame, flashes of memories of impressionable moments that occurred there also rushed to my mind. This helped to better represent the character of the hidden portions of the space. However, the impressions were not 10/10 perfect recollections. Figments of imagination and current knowledge of spaces also influenced the final picture, such as in developing proportionate furniture that were beyond the frame, or in reconciling the joinery of roof.

Spatial Profiles: The perspective views of the spaces was developed beyond the rectangular frames, as indicated in the drawing, through recollection of memories and figments of imagination.

Thus, the triad combination felt like puzzle pieces that fit together at the end to create a complete album of childhood memories. The recurring sketching practice has etched it in my mind to safely treasure them.

When we are old and failing, it is the memories of childhood which can be summoned most clearly.

Dan Simmons

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