Self Portrait #8 (after Marlene Dumas)
I’ve been looking at and admiring Dumas’ watercolors for awhile, and I finally got some books out of the library to explore in more detail. One in particular, “Wet Dreams”, describes her technique: very large wet paper, and she paints on the floor, moving the paper around so the paint moves in the water. She also works exclusively from secondhand materials: photos and reproductions. So I thought I would work from photos I had from my childhood.
The largest watercolor paper I had was 10 x 14, which I used it for a color attempt. I’ve never tried painting wet-on-wet, and it’s something I’ll have to get used to.
I then bought an 18 x 24 pad, although even that size is still small compared to Dumas’ giant heads. She does a lot of her work in black ink and wash, so I made a second attempt with that on the larger paper. It’s difficult for me to work on a head that large, plus I think I started out with the paper way too wet. “Interesting” is my conclusion at the result.
Neither one looks like my baby picture. But being as I’m in the standard Gerber Baby pose, I suppose it doesn’t matter all that much, especially since Dumas is less concerned with reproduction than interpretation, and she says she works big so she can make “big mistakes” rather than small ones.
And now that I’ve seen a fuller range of her painting, I have more to work with for my other childhood photos.
You can see all my self portraits in this series here.