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Sydney, New South Wales | James Mathurin | james.mathurin@gmail.com

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Flashback - The Gentleman

May 18, 2019

Hey, I just found out The Gentleman's name! This is Robert Cornelius, the first person to take an image (a daguerrotype, not a photograph) of himself. So there you go, a little history lesson for us all.

The Gentleman was another piece that really started out as an experiment. Summer and L'ermitage had been based on art nouveau paintings, but I wanted to see if I could take an image from the same period as those two, and turn it into an image in a similar style. Cornelius'  daguerrotype seemed a good basis.

Because this started out as just an experiment, I wasn't even using my usual materials. The paper was a really thin drafting paper, and the inks were done with art pens, rather than the Indian Ink and dip pen I'd used on previous designs. I added the background in to mimic the mechanical / art nouveau framing I'd used in L'ermitage. Again, if I'd known that this experiment would become one of my favourite images, I might not have done so much of the background freehand.

Using the felt-tips rather than a dip pen was probably the most succesful part of this experiment, and it's actually quite representative of the inking style I've settled into, years later. The Gentleman definitely needed clarity. I find drawings work best when there is a clear energy to them, and it can come from any stage of the art. You can have a very plain, simple layout but have it inked very dynamically, or a very dramatic pose that has much calmer inks that are trying to just make the energy of the figure clearer. This is a very sedate pose, and a very minimal, controlled inking style, but the energy comes from the level of detail I put in. There aren't even a lot of symmetrical elements, and with a more energetic inking style, I think it would have made those look like the result of a lack of attention, rather than a deliberate stylistic choice.

I really like the shaded version, as it separates the figure and background quite elegantly. It makes me think I should have given him a paler jacket.


Overall, The Gentleman is still one of my favourites. What do you think?

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