What are you thinking? This is the question I always have in mind when I look at old photographs, especially these days as I examine family albums for material for my art. 

This commissioned portrait was painted in May 2016, and I am reposting it today for Throw Back Thursday. 

I had several challenges with this lovely lady, mainly in painting an accurate resemblance given the quality of the photograph. Overall, two years later,  I am still pleased with the result and I hope the owner of the portrait is as well.

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"But she had learnt, in those solemn hours of thought, that she herself must one day answer for her own life, and what she had done with it; and she tried to settle that most difficult problem, how much was to be utterly merged in obedience to authority, and how much might be set apart for freedom in working." ~ Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)

graphite and pastel vintage portrait

In the last post, I spent some time thinking about what must be going through this young woman’s mind as she sat patiently, solemnly, perhaps for hours, for a series of portraits.

Today, I finished her. But she is not finished with me. She has been looking directly at me throughout the time I have been working on her and I feel like she wants to tell me something more.

I researched the Victorian and Edwardian eras and found Elizabeth Gaskell’s compelling words; they were appropriate, it seemed to me, for this lady’s penetrating gaze. Again, my imagination is getting the better of me. Was she an independent spirit? Was she happy? Was her life fulfilling? I will never know.

Although this graphite version of her is completed, I think I would still like to try painting her in another medium, possibly with pastels.

This old photograph forced me to think about the ways in which I might still show some of her face that is covered by dark shadows. It was a good exercise as I think it is possible take an old vintage photograph that I might have at one time, considered unworkable (I have many of those in my own photo albums) and still make something out of it. In other words, I am quite pleased with the outcome.

I have a feeling you will be seeing more of her and other vintage portraits in the future.

graphite and pastel vintage portrait

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