Cabinet Card Faces that tell a story

Young actress wearing a hat

Young actress wearing a hat – This was my warm up sketch. Fast and loose.

Waiting for the kids while they are in their drama class on Wednesday afternoons, I am in the lap of luxury for an hour in a big leisure centre. There is a huge room with large tables, very few people and a nearby change room with fresh water for painting. This week I took my altered book sketching back-pack (have ink, can travel) and did some sketches there.

When I want to launch into something without thinking too much or wasting limited time finding a subject, I sometimes like to look at vintage cabinet cards, featuring studio portrait photographs from the 19th and 20th centuries. The faces are intriguing, the costumes often more interesting than today’s garb and usually the poses are wonderfully contrived. They are in black and white so the tonal values and detail are usually good for my purposes.

gentle faced woman

Italian ballet dancer with smiling eyes.

Italian ballet dancer with smiling eyes. This one was done after I got home and she has a touch of collage. I cut the face first, loosely without drawing an outline, to avoid getting caught up in detail.. 

This woman looked like she was having a ball being photographed. She had a confident pose, uplifted chin and laughing italian eyes with Audrey Hepburn style eye make-up and brows.

sad-eyed woman

There was something rather sad about this woman’s eyes that touched me. My sketch looks very little like the original woman, but it has retained the inward gaze. Although it’s not a particularly good picture, I find that I like her in a personal way, so she’s going up.

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