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  • Writer's pictureApril Gavin

Style and Copy

On the final evening of my illustration class last winter, we had a quick look at the artist Joseph Raffael. He had a deep working method of: capturing his subject photographically; projecting the image onto a large sheet of watercolor paper; and would then draw the image onto his paper. His work is huge. His largest piece of work was 53" tall and 93" long. I couldn't wait to try this albeit at a way smaller scale.

Vernal Equinox 2024 10"x14"

On the vernal equinox, I took a walk with my camera. I took all sorts of pictures of all sorts of plants. I was able to get close enough to this euphorbia without startling the bee. As the human eye perceives this plant and the attending bee, the individual florets are barely 1/4" in radius and a honeybee is roughly 1/2" long. When I used my computer monitor to zoom in, I saw all this drama and chaos. I also didn't see one kind of yellow or green. There were many flavors of yellow and green to choose from.


You might not believe this, but there were some details I left out. It was hard to cope with that amount of information. I'm liking the impressionistic style which I may try for other pieces if appropriate. The thing I want to mention though is that this painting took weeks to complete - not my usual 10-15 hours for something this size.


It was incredibly helpful to have this ongoing painting to work on in the last four weeks. Work was incredibly and unusually heavy and I was grateful to have something in progress on the easel.


I also engaged in something called sofa medium during this heavy work time. Sofa medium is medium like graphite, colored pencil - dry drawing tools that can easily live in my sketchbook. I had convinced myself that I couldn't draw a realistic human face and in my burned out state I decided to prove myself wrong.


The above is a copy of a painting by Rembrandt. I had the delightful thought: "what if Rembrandt had a side gig doing school photos." I like the light that I captured in her eyes, but I'm not sure I got the very delicate lines of lips and chin right.


This is also copy of an early American painter whose name I don't remember. This is done in pure graphite. I love the light and shadow and I didn't do such a bad job on the ear.


What all this has taught me in the last few months is that my art has merit. I'm working with a new sense of confidence. I'm not one to compare myself to others; but if I feel jealous of someone's style, I try it on and see how it feels.


Also, it's months away, but I'll be teaching a bookbinding class at Kala Art Institute on Saturday, November 9th from 10-4. We'll be making small travel journals. Go to this link for more information and registration.


Enjoy the rest of spring! See you soon!

1 Comment


Christl Michele
Christl Michele
May 03

Wow… I love the dichotomy of macro and micro here. What a lavish painting!

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