An Oldie But A Goodie
I've always loved looking at old photos. Not just professional ones. I really like the ones you – or most likely your parents – have in albums at the back of a wardrobe somewhere. Doesn't matter if I know the people in the images or not. I love trying to understand what was happening at that moment. Analysing the subjects' facial expressions, their demeanor, their outfits and hairdos, where they were. There's a story in each image.
Grand-maman and her mandolin
It's harder to access someone's tangible photo album these days. Fortunately, I found a few Instagram accounts that scratch the itch of looking at strangers and imagining their lives.
They inspired me to go through my mum's photo albums to choose an image to draw. I had in mind a photo I remembered having seen once, from the 1950s. In it, some of my mum's very nicely dressed aunts were posing in front of a Christmasy looking dinner table. I never got to that album. I stopped after I came upon photos of my grandmother when she was young. I never knew her, she died from cancer a few years before I was born. I only know a few details about her, one of which is that she could play some musical instruments without ever having had lessons. So this photo seemed like a good representation of her.
Looking closely at my grandmother made me notice all the features that were passed on to my aunt/godmother, my mother, and even my brother. My godmother died at the same age my grandmother did (fuck cancer) and I really miss her. She was like a second mum to me. So it was a very touching experience to see her face in my grandmother's and to spend time with it. That twinkle in her eye, that half smile: I see my godmother in those. It makes me think that my grandmother was probably fun to be around as well.
Although I enjoyed the process, I don't think I succeeded in recreating a good likeness of the original photo! 😅😬 I'm definitely rusty with the OG pencil and paper medium. My fingers were very much missing the double tap for the undo shortcut on Procreate, haha! Still, I'm glad I created something away from a screen for once. It's a good exercise in letting go of perfection (a running theme for me, I know). And I liked painting the bright colour background.
Feel free to reply to this newsletter to tell me if you share my love of old photos!
I was also inspired to draw in black and white on paper by the two very talented artists below!
The story follows the lives of identical twins Desiree and Stella, two light-skinned black girls, who run away from home at the age of sixteen. Years later, theirs lives are completely different from one another. Starting with their racial identities.
There's been a lot of hype around The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett... and for good reason! From the first few lines you know you're in good hands with Bennett. What an enjoyable read. In just 350 pages, the story spans more than 60 years of characters' lives. I got so involved in them that I would have gladly spent another 350 pages in their company.
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