Wednesday, November 24, 2004
SELF PORTRAIT MADNESS
I threw this together last night in Painter in about fifteen minutes. I will sometimes take a few minutes to squeeze off a self portrait/caricature/drawing just to stay sharp. I don't think that this is really in any way special or especially good but it's a great exercise. Capturing a likeness is hard to do. Caricature is, itself, an especially subjective art form. As much as viewers will say, "either it looks like him or it doesn't..." there are still a lot of details that the viewer brings--preconceptions, etc... that affect the way they view the caricature. Some of my favorite caricaturists are lousy at creating solid likenesses, but somehow manage to capture something in the subject that makes the caricature spot on.
Ralph Steadman is less concerned with creating a likeness than he is with editorializing on his subject using his own particular brand of ink spatter and madness--the Gonzo style of art. Other artists like Roberto Parada and Daniel Adel manage to create spot on likenesses while editorializing a bit on the subject. Still, they are almost portrait artists who DO caricature. Some of the best caricaturists used to be editorial cartoonists. Draper Hill, Jeff MacNelly, Paul Conrad and, yes, even my very own mother used to do wonderful caricature in their cartoons. Cartoonists today are less caricaturists and more humorists.
I have dabbled in caricature but I find it a maddening enterprise. It's incredibly hard for me to get some of the proportions correct... I have made the mistake of doing caricatures of friends who just don't get it... I spend a lot of time apologizing for accurately focusing on their bulbous nose or huge forehead. I won't make that mistake again.