Friday, August 31, 2012

Chalk Baby: To Smudge, or Not To Smudge

Looking for a fun-to-draw subject, I flipped through my file of very old photos. These aren't of my ancestors, although my mother does have a huge box of antique family photos...but these, which I picked up somewhere along the line, were at hand. Seems I've been sketching mostly ladies lately, so I thought a sweet little baby-type might be a nice challenge. 

I found a photo, and did a preliminary pencil sketch. 

Then I found a scrap of pastel paper and experimented with white and red chalk pencils.

Now it's break time, where I step back, revisit the sketch with fresh eyes, and decide whether or not to smudge the chalks and go for a "rounded, blended" look, or stick with the "unblended, paper-texture-shows-through" look. 

I don't think that looking at him/her* upside down is going to help me make this decision.

*Note on the Him/Her: When we Twenty-first Century People look at a photo of a baby in a dress, our natural inclination is to think, "Baby Girl!" But tots from the beginning of the last century--and surely, long before 1900--wore dresses. Girl or boy. When looking at photographic portraits from a hundred years ago, or, for that matter, painted portraits from hundreds of years ago, we have to look beyond the dress to figure out the gender. Sometimes, the surroundings or the props help differentiate the baby girls from the baby boys. In the case of my reference photo (which was not labeled on the back--Write names on your photos, people! That is, if you even print out photos, anymore.) the presence of the two books and the absence of flowers or dolls or hair decoration leads me to surmise that it might be a boy. But that's pure speculation.

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