Yesterday, I noted that an intense laugh sometimes has an amount of ambiguity. However, the ambiguity in yesterday’s post is, I fear, the fault of the artist.
Expressions conveyed by the mouth are extremely difficult to capture. For example, if one looks at photographs of family members, a particular the line of the mouth represents an intimately familiar meaning. And yet, as simple as that line may look, reproducing it in a sketch or painting, in my experience is nearly impossible.
Today’s watercolor experiment:
I tried a larger scale version of yesterday’s laugh, thinking that bigger is better when looking at details.
Underlying the watercolor is a combination of charcoal and conte sketching. I added neutral tint to my four color palette of phthalo green, cadmium red, titanium white and yellow ochre. But I paid most of my attention to the negative space that was the shape of the open mouth.
Working on a larger scale and reducing the context of the rest of the face, didn’t capture the essence of the laugh that I was seeking.
The watercolor below reduces the laughing mouth to a mere detail, but the context, including other details of the face and the body language conveys more of the mirth than the mouth alone.
This brings up the question, “Is the mouth by itself sufficient to express an emotion unambiguously?” I must continue to practice.