Self-Evolving Portrait: “Gareth”
– Graphite and white charcoal on colored paper
– 5.9×8.3″/15×21 cm
He came from a long line of wanderers, each of whom had passed on this wanderlust to an only child. Gareth was the first to be born a male. His mother had been his greatest mentor. Half a century after her death, he still followed her example: he never stopped moving, and he told no one where he’d been. Unlike his forebears, however, he had brought no child of his own into this world. The little orphan girl he found huddled in the bole of a tree had rendered that unnecessary. Ten years on, she had grown strong, with her own ideas and a will of iron. Every day, she became more of a handful. Good, he thought. It will serve her well. He relished the certainty that she would one day go where he had not.
Sitting in the hospital while waiting for my wife’s appointment number to come up is as good a time as any to do a self-evolving portrait. I put a sheet of colored paper in my sketch clipboard and started with the usual squiggly shading. After I covered about half the page, something suggested itself. More accurately, “someone suggested himself.”
From that point on, it was just a matter of accentuating and clarifying the image as it emerged on the paper. I used the kneaded eraser to fade out the lines on the lower right and to clear some key highlight areas on the nose and forehead before adding the white charcoal.