Saturday 22 October 2011

On chasing Gainsbourg

Ah, greetings reader. Today I'm going to let you into a little part of my world, namely what happens when I try and draw a specific person. I'm not very good at drawing specific people, because specific people have a specific look and if I'm totally and brutally honest, I'm not a good enough artist to pull that trick off.

However, I am pretty good at capturing the vibe of someone, so that's what I focus on usually. Last night I was of a mind to try and draw Serge Gainsbourg.

I really am fascinated by Serge Gainsbourg. I think he's perhaps one of the most compelling artists of the 20th Century, largely because wherever you look in the annals of music or art, there's no-one who is quite his equivalent. A national treasure in the vein of Cliff Richard on one hand, whilst also being variously decried as a pornographer, smut-peddlar, sexual deviant and communist. He's the epitome of the French artist: mad, bad and dangerous to know, as well as the archetype dirty old French bastard AND sexy sex-on-legs French Frenchman.

These are the things I needed to work on capturing, then. Effort one was as much a blind silhouette as anything, drawn absent-mindedly whilst looking at Google image search. Consequently, it's dreadful. I mean, really really bad. In it are all the elements which I would later settle on but all packaged wrong.

Number 2 is better but still not right. He looks more like Yul Brynner in Westworld. But I was starting to get the idea. The nose has to dominate, whilst other important characteristics are his eyes - which were perennially like sheep's fannies - his fish lips complete with cigarette and his rather prominent ears. Beyond that was just filler.

In 3, then, I did away with more or less everything that wasn't one of those things. And ay caramba, it bloody worked. I was satisfied. Job done.

But then I had a drink and discussed pornography on Twitter and suddenly the spirit of Gainsbourg was reborn within me. This led to number 4, which is the best one of the lot. The key to drawing well, it seems, is to drink whisky.

The end.

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