portrait : landscape

A few months ago I signed up to take part in a very cool collaborative traveling sketchbook that Kimi Kobashi was organizing. The name of the project is “portrait : landscape”. The basic idea is that each artist gets a total of 4 pages (2 spreads) in the sketchbook. The first set of pages are for a self portrait, and the second set is for a landscape of the artist’s town or neighborhood.

My turn finally came when the sketchbook arrived in my mailbox after Carol SilverFeather had finished her pages. Of course it arrived just when life was getting busy, so I took a little longer to finish it up that I probably should have.

portrait pages
Portrait Pages

landscape pages
Landscape Pages

Here’s a little secret: I really do not enjoy drawing self portraits. Just the thought of it makes me nervous. To save myself some grief, I instead decided to include a couple of self portrait photographs I’d taken with my iPhone.

Portrait, Left Page

For the page facing the photos, I unabashedly stole an idea from Paulette Beete, a talented poet and writer I’ve gotten to know, thanks to the magic of the internet. I had read her post Portrait in objects? back in January. What she wrote has stuck with me since, perhaps because a list of objects naturally has a visual element to it? A list of objects can tell a story without giving away too much, and so, leaves quite a lot to the imagination which appeals to me.

But I digress; when considering what to include for my portrait pages, I sat at my messy desk and realized I should write a list-poem, so I did. I wrote down the objects in the order in which I noticed them, which in my mind adds another layer to the “story,” but maybe that’s just me. You’ll have to determine for yourself what my poem says about me.

Portrait, Right Page
If the writing is too small to read in the photo above, view this image a little larger on flickr.

I gave the landscape pages a lot of thought. I don’t live in a city or town. I live near cities and towns, but my immediate surroundings are very neighborhoody with a few farms scattered here and there. The more I thought about how to portray this, I realized the best thing to do would be to capture the feeling. One afternoon I sat on the steps of the back deck and sketched my view.

landscape sketch

My sketch turned out a little odd, but I was inspired by the shape of the hills that I’d drawn.

From there I decided to simplify the drawing and make an abstract interpretation of the view. I created texture and pattern to symbolize trees and fields. I drew the hills with marker only and used watercolor for the sky.

Landscape, Left Page

Landscape, Right Page

The sketchbook is now on its way to the next artist on the list, Anna Jane Searle, in the UK. From there it will travel through many countries and eventually make its way back to the US where it will live with Kimi.

There are already so many different styles and scenes in the sketchbook, that I’m eager to see how the book will evolve from where I left off. If you’d like to take a look at the other pages that have already been added, view the portrait : landscape project page on Kimi’s blog.