sometimes you need a prop

Some more progress on the Watcher.

I accomplished quite a bit more on the leaves/greenery.  At about this point, I started getting the uncomfortable feeling that something wasn’t quite right, though I couldn’t put my finger on it.  A nagging little voice in my head was insisting something was lacking.  But when I get really, really focused on something, I don’t want to stop.  I want to press on.  Work through it.  Ignore the little voice and it’ll go away.

Thankfully, I’m getting better at listening.  So, I stopped.

When I came back to the drawing a day or so later, I realized what had been bothering me.  So, it’s a head with a very stern expression with a head-dress of leaves.  OK.  So what?  Without the title, what does that mean?  If I want the focus to be the story the art tells and not so much about the technique…?

To me, there wasn’t context for the image.  It needed something more… so I decided to add his hand grasping a staff/rod. (The image is cloudy because there’s a tracing paper overlay on which I’ve been sketching.)

My reasoning follows:

1. To add context:  as mentioned above, I wasn’t satisfied that the portrait alone was conveying what I wanted.  He’s a mythical character, and he’s obviously not amused.  So, I chose to show his hand clenched tightly around what could be a badge of office… or a weapon, to show more definite emotions rather than, …oh I don’t know… discomfort from indigestion maybe?

2. To make the negative space more interesting:  that blank space to me wasn’t doing anything to help balance that BIG head, but I also didn’t want to distract from it by adding a background.

3. To more strongly define the composition:  I want the focal point to be his face, most especially his eyes.  But all of that very busy foliage had begun not only to compete, but also to direct the viewer’s eye away, since the stalks and leaves are growing away from the face.  To counter this, the line of the shoulder sweeps down, and then the strong directional of the angled rod brings the viewer’s eye back up to the face, passing behind the head very near the eyes.

Maybe I’m messing it up.  I don’t know.  But at least I got the little voice to hush up.  For now.


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12 Responses to sometimes you need a prop

  1. Lisa says:

    I am really enjoying this guys progress.

    I think Jo & Erica put it in words better than I could have. I’m a visual person, so much so that I often find it hard to verbalize why I do or do not some things. They either just work for me & evoke a feeling, or don’t work. Does that make any sense? LOL

  2. Jo says:

    I love this piece Teresa, and I really agree with your reasoning behind the additions – in particular the way the staff draws my eyes back to his – it’s such a simple concept, but works so effectively. The drawing has so much life now, and it really helps improve the intensity of his stare – even though his eyes are unchanged (I think?)
    I really like this style of pen and ink – it seems (to me) to opening up your free/creative side more – the hatched drawings are beautiful too, but very detailed – these curving lines are so fluid – I hope you are enjoying using the style, I’m really enjoying seeing the products!

    • twentzler says:

      I’m glad you like it, Jo. His eyes are indeed unchanged; the directional device seems to be doing its job. 🙂 As for the style, it’s a much slower go for me: it’s new for me, and because fewer more strategically placed lines do the work of many short hatched ones, it’s actually more “planned” and deliberate than hatching. I hope that will change with practice; I am enjoying it very much.

  3. Irene says:

    Just wanted to say I love what you are doing with him!

  4. Jan says:

    All I can say along with Erica and Fiona’s reply is…. WOW!!! the more you tinker the more real it becomes. Keep listening to that little voice it knows……

  5. Erica says:

    I don’t think you’re messing him up at all. You’re taking something and manipulating it into something that works for you. Your original inspiration is a carving – lacking warmth and personality really. You’ve given the Green Man a story to tell. He’s got a personality now and a purpose. His eyes are very intense and now it seems there’s a reason for that intensity. He’s far less static than the original carving which makes him much more interesting to look at. Now I’m left wonder just what has caused that look in his eyes? Is he defending something? Or attacking?

    Whenever your art involves people or animals, you always tell a story with that art – it’s how your draw. Giving the Green Man a story to tell fits perfectly with how I see your art. It’s wonderful!

    • twentzler says:

      Erica, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have a strong tendency toward illustration; I’m happy when images I make tell a story…or at least cause people to wonder what the story behind the art *might* be. I’m glad to hear that it’s working for you! 🙂

  6. Fiona says:

    What a fascinating post! I love hearing the reasoning behind the additions! It has changed him a lot for me, though. I tend to think of the Green Man as a carving in (or on) a church – a head without a body, because these are the illustrations I’m familiar with (oh, and I meant to say yesterday that I don’t mind the ones with leaves coming from the mouth, it’s those with them coming from the nostrils that I can’t stand!) Your Green Man has now become something much more complete and three dimensional…more physical and less fantastical.

    • twentzler says:

      Like you, I’ve always thought of the green man character as just a leafy head: a fascinating symbol more than anything else. Putting him in a more ‘immediate’ context seems almost …risky. Hard to explain! Thanks for commenting, Fiona!

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