Sunday, May 20, 2018

Wedding Photo 1930

A few weekends ago (5/5-6/18) the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts (MAFA) held its first Juried Art Show at the Monrovia Historical Museum in Monrovia, CA.

(The Historical Museum building was at one time the entrance to the city swimming pool. In my youth I swam there many a summer back in the 1960's. For twenty cent you could swim all day. Now the boys and girls locker rooms are sectioned into mini dioramas highlighting the city's rich history with photographs and artifacts from the late 1800's onward. The pool has been cemented over into a patio forever burying an era. Before I go off on a tangent, let me get back to the Art Show:- ).

I entered the latest piece to be completed a 29" x 23" pen and ink drawing entitled 'Wedding Photo 1930'. (more details about this piece can be read on my blog dated Thursday February 8, 2018).

Saturday evening at the opening ceremonies Christine Geltz, president of MAFA, presented me with a certificate.
Sunday evening when I picked up the artwork from the museum Christine had another certificate for me.

I get comments on my pen and ink work. The commentary usually revolves around the details in the piece and the fine (0 point Koh-I-Nor drafting pen) cross hatching lines that make up the shading.
It is not how much work is involved, it takes about a year to complete one of these pieces. 
The story telling potential is what I see in a photograph. The 'details and line work' are  there to support the story(s) being told in the illustration.

The anatomy of pen and ink line work..
 This was the set up for a wedding photo to be taken as people gathered on and around the bleachers.

I am always on the lookout for a picture to 'jump start' my imagination.When I first saw this picture i I immediately saw the stories it held.
 I realized long ago "there is nothing new under the sun" as Solomon pointed out. My time is not spent trying to 'think up' something original, there is a wealth of ideas and concepts just waiting for a new twist on an old idea.
It is what you do with the subject matter that counts. The camera  and bleachers would unfold it's story (taking a photo) within the many mini-stories taking place.

To truly make your artwork a labor of love, you must invest yourself in the project. You  must have something to 'say' through it.

This is the kind of wedding and festivity my wife LaVonne dreamed about.
We got married while I was in college. From Monrovia she rode a Grey Hound Bus 245 miles to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
I got a friend and fellow football player Milton Leonard, to drive us downtown to the courthouse for the ceremony. There in this little room we stood with this grizzled old man, the justice of the peace, his wife, Milton and a woman we did not know (to be a second witness) reciting vows that have lasted 46 years as of last January. Agapeo love for sure. The details of this is another story for another day :- ).
As wedding that could have been ours in a different time and place is now captured in pen and ink.

One of the many questions that needed to be answered...what kind of cameras would have been in use in that time period?
The start of ideas...
small thumbnail drawings put on scraps of paper exploring the possibilities of believably and entertainment.
Position the cameraman (below) would likely have been in from different viewpoints.
These drawings would help me figure the balance ,weight distribution and lean of the final position of the cameraman...


...should the cameraman's head be seen at all? perhaps a more interesting background building...these thumbnails helped me a plan the composition...

Watching old black and white movies and looking at vintage photographs helped me get the feel and look of 1930's era clothing, hair styles and hats...


 These pages (below) are from my sketchbook.
   Always carrying a sketchbook allowed me to jot down ideas wherever and whenever I got an inspiration related to the planning of the piece.
Mid way down (A) the idea of a lady spanking her child (this is 1930 not 2018)...(B) bottom, a lady falling and a lady being helped up. I would build the attendees around their actions.
If I can get these three extremes of action to work properly then the rest of the characters, no matter their facial expression or movements will seem normal.
Bride and Groom...

Faces of family, friends and miscellaneous people out of my imagination make up this wedding party and yes the bride and groom are a young Ron and LaVonne.

The dress and tuxedo are patterned after these styles...

                                                                        look closely at the illustration, the tuxedo is about a size or two too big for the groom, drawn that way on purpose.
Was it the only one close to his size for rent, was it borrowed from friend or relative?...who knows his story?

Another idea (below) I entertained was to have workers in the background repairing the roof on the church. Penciled them in but a closer look revealed they did not add anything to the composition or entertainment value and would be distracting.

 An idea that did find it's way into the illustration was this tree to balance off the left side of the illustration.
Even a tree has questions to be answered. Of the many kinds of trees that populate our planet, what kind should it be? with or without leaves will give insight to what time of year it is. Would it be with birds or other animals that make trees their homes.
Before pen touches paper much thought and planning should go into any piece of art.

Details from 'Wedding Photo 1930'...
finished/framed (below) and work in progress(right).

until next time...