Confessions of a Ballerunner

Essays on Sports, Arts, Culture, and Life

Dreaming of a May long weekend on the lake…

After a rough week of nearly exclusive left brain use of sifting through and synthesizing a ton of scientific data and summarizing it all into a cohesive, pithy report, it was time for a creative catharsis. I decided to take out my Style Book and choose another photo from its endless supply of vintage fashion photos…

I chose a black & white photo of a woman wearing a one-piece beach outfit — a striped jumpsuit accessorized with a belt — napping (or at least pretending to nap) contentedly in a motorboat on an unnamed waterway, dated 1955. The picture was interesting to me for a couple of reasons: 1) the angle of the body movement (esp that the figure was angled away from the foreground) could be a challenge to interpret correctly compared to previous drawings from this book that I had selected (I still haven’t mastered perspective and foreshortening), and 2) the black & white nature of the photograph would require me to imagine a color scheme, should I choose to add color (which I almost always do).

So, I decided to experiment a bit more with mixed media…

I chose to initially hand-draw the illustration (below) in pen & ink, followed by a wash. I then took out my black conté crayon and added some more shading. (I have to be careful since I have a penchant for shading and can sometimes overdo it.) This was followed by another wash to some of the conté-shaded areas. I thought I was done: I had achieved a nice sepia-like vintage fashion illustration.

Apparently, I wasn’t, because I next had the idea of playing around with some subtle color through the use of PhotoShop. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am not a minimalist by nature.) It was just going to be the water, but then I thought, I can’t not add color to the model’s outfit if this is to be a fashion photo. Plus, I thought without a little color added to her skin, one might mistakenly interpret the tableau as a potential crime scene: was the woman napping peacefully or was she a murder victim set adrift on an abandoned boat? Or, maybe the illustration was to represent a more modern version of The Lady of Shalott?..

I therefore colorized to my heart’s content and even drew in some stars and rope (via a Photoshop paintbrush) to add a touch of whimsy and reinforce the nautical theme. Admittedly, the lake is a bit more on the green side than I had initially intended, but if you know the Muskoka region at all, it’s heavily forested, so the waterway could quite reasonably be a reflection of the various species of trees along the shoreline with a few rays of sunlight peaking through the stratocumulus clouds onto our blissfully unaware sunbather (who probably needs to re-apply her sunscreen!)


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