Meet Terri!

Terri is my neighbor from 7E. I was riding an elevator with Terri one day and suddenly had realized that Terri was a solution to my problem. As I am getting closer to the finish line of my project I became conscious that I don’t have a single black female in my sketchbook. Otherwise the book is nicely balanced – a real little slice of an American big city, except for this unfortunate omission. It’s not that I don’t know any black women, I have collected a number of references, but there’s always something not quite right with them – mostly my photography skills.

I shared all this with Terri right there in the elevator. “But I need to wash my hair!!!” Terri exclaimed in reply. Of course! A girl must wash her hair before being photographed, even if it is perfect already – everybody knows that.

When we got together for a photoshoot, several minutes into it, I discovered that Terri was a natural model. I asked her not to pose, but to do things she needed to do while I would try to catch a natural expression. So she was washing dishes, repotting a plant, but amazingly at the exact moment of my shutter going off her eyes would be on me. Just like that, naturally. I had not a single bad shot! (Except for the one where my flash reflected from a mirror behind…) I even asked if Terri had modeled before, and it came out that she had – she was familiar with a runway and has shown hair fashions.

Oh, and Terri is not a mechanic, she works for an airline, this is just a shirt she wears at home. I thought it went well with her sassy expression.

#34 of 40. Graphite, Moleskine Cahier sketchbook

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  1. Reply
    lesliepaints December 2, 2010

    Very cool, Alex. I was believing she was a mechanic! Of course, if all you see is the drawing as the viewer, you can decide what you want. Another great portrait!

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis December 3, 2010

      Thank you, Leslie! Your comment made me think that perhaps I shouldn’t have included the “mechanic” label. Somehow I feel attracted to and love to include various paraphernalia in my portraits. It gives me the feel of immediacy of that day. On the other hand, following the “less is more” thought – the lack of “stuff” may make a portrait deeper. I have to think about it.

      • Reply
        lesliepaints December 4, 2010

        Oh no! I think it is great that you included it! I was marveling at the fact that she may be exactly that, a woman mechanic. There are times I would have loved to have some mechanical skills! I am sure Terri has had those moments, too! Once we create, we can enjoy the viewer’s responses. NO ONE views the same work exactly like the artist tried to portray. I learned that early on and really enjoy when someone shares what they see in what I create. I think what you included is fantastic!

        • Reply
          Alex Zonis December 5, 2010

          Oh, glad you liked the label! I know that responses sometimes differ significantly from artist’s intention, have experienced that myself. But I still think that your comment about the label moved me to an important thought – how much minutiae to include. These are sketches and practice portraits, here I go for a candid image and try to learn to catch the personality. Sometime, when I would move on to an important portrait (I hope!), I should consider how much detail is too much.

  2. Reply
    Carol King December 4, 2010

    You have a very interesting group of people in your building. And it is nice that you have a nice cross-section of different people from different walks of life. Terri seems friendly and warm. I think you did a great job with her. I’m jealous that you are so close to the end of your sketchbook and I am not anywhere near the end of mine.

    • Reply
      Alex Zonis December 5, 2010

      You are so right, Carol! My building is a bonanza for a portraitist. You have seen nothing yet :D! We have 90 condos here filled with gorgeous faces, I have already purchased another book for them.

      Have you been sketching in your book? I know you haven’t posted, but I was wondering if posting is too much bother and maybe you’ve been sketching in private…

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