Every year, as my birthday approaches I become a bit introspective and reflect about the journey so far; what I’ve learnt, what I think I’m doing right and what I would like to do better.
This year, after thinking about it, I decided I wanted to draw more. In my adventure as an independent artist I have to answer emails, meet clients and suppliers, make calls, work on my accounts, do taxes, and a million other tasks that sometimes keep me away from drawing just for myself. So I wanted to start my new year drawing every day and doing it for fun. But of course my birthday being in early December doesn’t help getting down to work; fast approaching Christmas with deadlines, social commitments, gift shopping and all those reindeers running around the house tumbling the Christmas tree. So it had to wait. And that’s how my birthday wish became my new year resolution.
I would start 2018 challenging myself to draw something daily, but what? First I looked for a theme; it had to be something of which I wouldn’t get tired easily and that I would enjoy drawing, otherwise I would get bored. I also needed some constraints so I wouldn’t need much time to get to the task everyday and I wouldn’t be distracted considering endless possibilities.
Finally I decided to draw one Old Hollywood actress a day for as long as I could. People are my favourite thing to draw and I have a fondness for old black and white pictures. So I thought it would be cool to find a photo I liked of an actress and draw her in my own way every day. And I was determined to do it using only 5 tones of grey so I could really go back to basics and just capture them the way they are in the photos; suspended in time, like a still picture of beauty and timelessness.
Of course, as I started researching and really looking at the pictures, what I encountered was different. Looking closely at numerous high resolution images of someone you start seeing some details that you had never noticed before. The shapes and gestures behind the make up and hairdos. The person.
Many of these women had difficult lives, they faced prejudice against gender and race, they battled with mental and physical illness, they struggled with addictions and family problems and in some cases they ended their days tragically. But many of them also overcame racism and sexism and pushed the limits of their minds and bodies in the journey through building a career as a woman in the 20th Century.
And that is a picture of beauty and timelessness.