Process of “For Saint Lufthild” (Part 1)

I thought I would start posting my process on some specific works.  This work, For Saint Lufthild, is a graphite drawing with digital imaging and collage.  I consider this a mixed media drawing.  It is part of my “Ex-voto” series.  With these works, they are visual narratives of the subject (the portrait).  The visual narratives are focused on telling the story of addictions (in all it’s forms) and those that have fought their addictions and are in recovery.  The collage images tell their story of addiction, the events / items that led to or are part of the addiction and the things that helped them stay on the path of recovery.  I use religious imagery and ideas as signifiers of strength.  That those who”conquer” their addictions (one day at a time) have willingly put themselves on a hard path.  But I digress, on to the process.

First, I start with excessive planning and thumbnails, working out ideas, colors, images, etc.  I like to have a solid plan before I start on the work.  I always have my composition laid out before I start.  Of course, things can change when working on the piece, but I hate not knowing what to do next when I am actually working on the piece.

Second, I draw the portrait.  I usually utilize two to three pictures for the subject.  One main image, the basis for the majority of the drawing, and one or two others for smaller items (like hair, makeup in women, lighting issues).  With the main picture, I use the grid method for accuracy to the subject.  Although, I generally change the features slightly so the subject is not immediately recognizable as my work can deal with sensitive issues.  I would prefer to draw from life, but my schedule and working space does not lend itself to having models.  Here is an image of the drawing before any collage is added:


You can see at this point, I have the image pretty well laid out.  I have areas blocked for the collage elements and notes of what is going where.

More to come in Part 2 of Process of “For Saint Lufthild”


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