A friend of mine, Lesley Samms, sent me a link at the end of December to apply for the “Show Me The Monet” BBC series on art which I did. And forgot about it.
Last week nice voice by the name of Nel phoned and we had a great chat – that was the second stage of selection. So, from 3000 it went down to 300, and after the telephone conversation another 150 of the applicants went in a puff of smoke. But I survived. And that’s why…
Tomorrow I am going to Shepherds Bush for an interview. After that only a quater of the remaining 150 artists will make it to the final exhibition. Wish me luck!
I’ll have to produce a proof of my identity and a proof of my authorship for the artwork I submitted. I thought I’d do the latter in a blog form to save myself lagging stuff around London and also illuminate briefly on my way of working on a mezzotint portrait.
It started last Autumn. I was again thinking about a getting a new model on my quest for a remarkable face, and remembered Eve – a pretty girl of about 14-15. I contacted her mom Angela, asking if Eve would be interested to sit for me and if Angela herself wouldn’t mind. “Yes” was the answer and one day after that they came to the gallery.
Eve was 15, slim, nearly 6 foot tall and beautiful beyond words. I didn’t expect all this when I was asking and certainly got more than I bargained for. It turned out as well, that Eve has just been signed up by a modelling agency after an unexpected turn of events.
We had a couple of sessions in my studio with Eve. I was photographing and drawing. We talked about this and that. And so, at the end I had about 800 photos, a few video clips and several quick sketches.
The next stage is brooding. Brooding, brooding. Looking through the materials: photos and clips. (I am still to figure out how to make use of videos…)
During that time, I re-visited the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci spiral ideas and thought about composition.
A few photos emerged as possibilities. Then I photoshopped them into something I wanted the mezzotints look like. Trying them with bands of colour, cropping etc.
So, here is the photo of Eve which was the base for the print. What attracted me to this particular one out of the 800 others is the geometry of the lines formed by the hair on the forehead, outline of the face, hand and arm.
The face is peaceful, at the same time there is a subtle smile. It hints towards thoughts which cannot be seen, cannot be known, but they are the most important element. They create the dynamics of the whole picture. So, the picture is very static here, but there is motion created by the underlying geometry of the composition and by the subtle expression f the face.
Next stage – cropping. I decided to take the Golden Ratio proportions and Fibonacci spiral to base the composition on. Why? To tie together proven classical references and rules (one way or another they run a lot of human programming in terms of how we perceive art) in order to create an iconic image.
In a way, I am after something as iconic as Mona Lisa, and some references to that portrait are also incorporated into Eve’s mezzotint. All that laid on the powerful chiaro-scuro effect of the technique itself is bound to create a remarkable image.
The road is marked. Now, all that is left to do is to actually make it. Simple
I ordered two large plates to Martin Maywood. Not long before that we talked and he said he was able to rock much bigger plates now. That’s why I could plan a more ambitious project – size-wise as well as in other ways. 75-46cm plate is quite large for a mezzotint. Got the plates some time in February or March. The next 4-5 months were spent in burnishing. And that’s it.
Many hundreds of hours and several stage proofs later I had two beautiful portraits of Eve Delf. Well, also a series of hands with an apple and a trio of smaller plates picturing fragments of Eve’s beautiful face.
PS. I’ve never watched the program itself, as we haven’t got a television in the house. I might leave it that way to make it more exciting