Abbey Lincoln portrait, revised

A couple of years ago, I drew this portrait of Abbey Lincoln in one of my sketchbooks. I was experimenting with painting a shape and then inking line details on top. The paper was a bit too thin for the gouache painting so some wrinkling occurred and came through in the scan along with the gutter fold of the sketchbook.

I opened the scan in Photoshop and converted the blue painted shape into a single color. This also captured a bit of the gutter fold shadow creating a crease across the face area.

I then converted all of the ink line details to solid black. This also captured some of the gutter fold shadow along with some additional shadow areas from the wrinkling of the paper.

I cleaned up the black from the wrinkle shadows as well as the sketchbook edges, but decided to leave the gutter shadow marks. I liked the accidental aspect of it and how it referenced the sketchbook, also how the line related to the diagonal black lines in the background. I didn't realize though that some might see this mark as a cut across the face, not my intention of course. And I realized that the reference to the sketchbook was probably only apparent to me. So I decided to remove the gutter shadow "cut" mark.

I also lightened up the blue a bit. And looking back at this piece, I remembered that I had made an alternative version, one with less distortion.

I liked how this version turned out, although I think it makes the body appear a bit odd in relation to the head. Overall, I prefer the distorted version, even better without the cut.

Magnifier lamp


This winter, I decided to play around with collage again, something I haven't done for years. Early in my career, a couple of clients asked for this style. Request Magazine was one client, published by Musicland. The art director asked me to create collage illustrations for stories on bands and general music topics. The other client was the Minneapolis weekly newspaper called City Pages.

This was around the time I was going digital, so I made collages with traditional cut out paper elements and also made collages digitally with images scanned into Photoshop (Photoshop 2.0 by the way).

To create collages again, my first task was to find collaging material. I had recently inherited a large clipping file collection of images from the seventies and early eighties. To add to this material, I went about searching for old department store catalogs and old magazines. I also replenished my supply of matte medium, brushes, and x-acto blades.

With all of my supplies laid out in front of me on my drawing table, I pulled up my stool, eager to get started.

As I began looking through the catalogs and magazines, I realized one important thing I had forgotten. My aging eyes could no longer focus in on close things. Cutting out small shapes was going to prove challenging.

What to do? I remembered that one of my grad school professors used magnifying goggles when she painted so she could focus in on the fine details. I did a little research and actually found a better solution, a magnifer lamp. I mentioned to my wife and daughter that I wanted one of these lamps for my Christmas present, and of course the Manx cat I had mentioned to them previously.  

And then, on Christmas morning, awesome! I got my magnifier lamp! but no Manx cat (I really didn't think I would be getting a Manx cat anyway).

So now, cutting out little heads, like the one above, and other things would be a breeze.