In this project, I have committed to make an intensive investigation drawing a series of 48 self portraits over four hours. The objective of the process is to create a combined work which has the passing of time at its core, both for myself as the artist but also for the viewer. The process will result in two works, one a video and one an artist’s book.
Considerable thought has gone into the setup of this. I want to video myself whilst I work. I also want to photograph and then bind the drawings together. Since the drawings will be bound as single sheets, the paper needs to be thick enough to support this and of a size to make an object for the hand.
I set up an easel with a mirror, tripod and video camera with side lighting for modelling of features. The easel was marked with masking tape for eye and mid-axis level to aid some consistency of placement for photo-compiling. A pinger was set to 4 minutes. A deep breathe, and I was off…
In fact, I did not manage to work without interruption for fours hours non-stop. There were slight pauses for a drink, video fiddling etc. Each drawing had to be fixed before I could turn it over and continue. I chose to draw double sided once I saw the size of the stack of 48 300gm sheets. Some sheets are tracing paper, when I chose to work off one drawing for the next.
Each drawing was numbered as I completed it, and I find that I lost track in a couple of places; there are two numbers repeated, so I actually drew 50 drawings in the end (though I have retained my chosen title for the work because of the relevant repetition).
Each drawing was photographed and then aligned with the eyes (as much as possible) of the previous drawing, using layers in a digital photo editor (Paintshop). These were imported, together with video footage into a video editor (VSDC). I have tried to keep the video simple. I want it to show both how the process of drawing worked and the continuous process of drawing itself. The video isn’t a smooth as I would like, demonstrating a learning curve with the software.
The length of the video was a major consideration. It needs to be long enough to allow the viewer to engage with each drawing but short enough not to be deadly boring. I felt that four minutes was appropriate in that it balanced these two aspects whilst reflecting the process itself. It also allows me to add a sound track which is a single drawing from starting bell to final fixing and ping. It is, however, significantly longer than the 90 seconds which OCA suggest for inclusion of video for assessment.
The final video: 48/4
The drawings with fine lines have not converted to video well, even at high definition. However, the video does demonstrate the tension between the quest for a spontaneous, expressive line and representational accuracy. The fixed stare of the self portrait robs the face of animation. Towards the end of the exercise, I finally felt that some balance between exciting mark and accuracy was starting to happen. It was a very interesting and productive process and I hope that the video both demonstrates the process and involves the viewer in it.