19. Feb, 2016

To Project or Not to Project

I have recently been upgrading my work station to make my life a bit easier as a portrait artist.  

I have been working on my dining table whilst the kids are either at school or in bed, but the obvious downside was getting tedious as I have been getting busier, so I invested in a proper artists table and made myself somewhere permanent to work.

Whilst searching the web for the best deals an ad popped up for an artists projector.  This is a tool that a lot of artists use, particularly in portraiture, to ensure the proportions are accurate.  The use of such equipment dates back in art as long as art itself.  Some well known artists such as Carvaggio, used obscured glass to project their subjects image onto the wall so they could effectively trace the image.  

This is an extremely contraversial subject in the art world, with many considering it to be a cheat, but so many professionals use them.  So, when this ad appeared, I was so very tempted. I have never used any tools to help me with accuracy or proportions.  All my portraits are drawn by eye, with all the agony that it comes with.  Not using any form of tool for accuracy, such as the projector, the grid system or the plumb line, adds on at least two hours to each of my portraits.   But, as agonising as that is, is it a bad thing really?

From a cost perspective, it's not great.  The longer a portrait takes, the less per hour I get paid.  However, if I didn't go through this stage and was able to quickly sketch out an acurate outline, would I achieve the same end result?  

Another reservation I have is that I get so used to using a projector, I lose the ability that I have honed over the past 20 years, to draw by eye.  If I lose that ability, how can I then draw infront of people.  

You will see the portrait I have chosen to go with this blog post is 'Leo'.  This was drawn by me last spring, from start to finish, in the middle of a busy cafe, with people watching me whilst drinking tea and eating cake.  This took me 5 and a half hours approximatly.  I have been told by it's recipients that it looks so like Leo, it's like he's still alive.  Do  I want to mess with that ability?  

Well, for now, I've decided I don't want to.  I want to push myself further and try to keep getting better without these aids.  

What do you think?  How would you feel if you had ordered a portrait and found out after that a projector had been used for initial accuracy?  I'd be interested to hear your views.