May 22, 2009
Crystallization of a Vision
I'm constantly searching crowds and faces for that special "someone" to be the subject of my work. Very soon after I spot the one, I have a vision of the finished portrait. This vision is less how the drawing will look, but more how it will feel, the emotion it will communicate.
This vision is fixed in my mind like a star. I follow this star from the start of the portrait until completion. As the work progresses, I make constant changes in shapes, marks, movements, directions, so that the abstract aspect of the work supports my intention. Once I've lived with it, I make minute changes in facial expressions to emphasize the subject's personality. And though the drawing may look finished, I cannot let it go until it feels finished—I continue to erase, rework, and study it until it is a part of my family.
When everything finally falls into place, I can feel the subject's presence, it communicates to me. The formal energies are all in balance—I sense a sudden stillness in the work—it crystallizes. That's when I know it's done.
At this point, I often smile and greet the subject of the portrait aloud, as if they had just arrived in my studio.
The second drawing of Kaveh radiates a whole other attitude—it communicates a totally different aspect of his personality. When I draw more than one portrait of the same subject, as artists have done for hundreds of years, it is each time with a different vision—a different aspect of the subject; a different feeling.
This drawing was shown at the recent international modern and contemporary art fair in Chicago.
All images © Mary Borgman, 2009
Portrait of Kaveh (2), charcoal on Mylar