Sunday, March 7, 2010

Study - Anton Walbrook

pencil 20x19cm

I needed a face I could reference for the painting. It had to be a mixture of sophisticated, remote, a bit strange, and also quite powerful. I quite liked the idea of a nineteen thirties/forties smoothie.

Anton Walbrook in Powell and Pressburger’s ‘The Red Shoes’ was perfect. He plays Lermontov, the manipulative impresario. Madam has the DVD, so I played it on the computer, took screenshots, and with a bit of tweaking, got the model I wanted.

The drawing took less than two hours, very fast for me, and I think it’s a good one. It actually looks like the subject, is full of information about form, and the marks are quite deft and confident. This is one of those occasional bits of work where you look at it the next day and think ‘Did I do that?’ (in a good way).

I find doing ‘portraits’ extremely difficult; you have to be very good to do it consistently, and it’s something I should practice more. In reproducing specific faces and expressions the variables are so many, and the tolerances so critical, that a likeness can easily slide into a similar person – in this case, Stewart Grainger or David Farrar.

This phenomenon is quite similar to the way that the theme tune for ‘the High Chaparral’ turns resolutely into ‘Telstar’.

I think this needs serious scientific research.

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