I began photographing Mike, my older brother, on his 40th birthday. I wanted to try figuring him out. Since I was a child, Mike was unreachable. In 1952, he was diagnosed with autism and ‘profound retardation’, according to the first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM I). Mike is nonverbal to this day.

On one of my visits to Mike’s group home I saw him sitting in a chair with an expression I had never seen before. I took a photo. I discussed it at great length in my post I Need to Dig Out My Journals.

Picture of Mike with teary eyes

The photo is contrasty and grainy, but it gives me a feeling of profound sadness. This is what I believe Mike was feeling at the time.

I want to apply my process of abstracting the essential visual elements of this photo to express the emotional content with the least amount of detail.  I begin below with fully detailed sketches:

Pencil Sketch: Portrait, Mike Crying

Mike Crying – Pencil Sketch
9″x12″ 60# Ivory Drawing Paper


Pen an Ink Sketch: Portrait, Mike Crying

Mike Crying – Ink Sketch
9″x12″ 60# Ivory Drawing Paper

Neither of these sketches convey the sadness I see in the original photograph. I did not capture Mike’s teary eye.

2 thoughts on “Emotional

    • Thank you for commenting. Mike is now in a geriatric group home. I only visited him once there, in 2013. It was run by the same outfit that ran the home where he was placed after they closed Willowbrook. (If you haven’t read about that institution, there are some posts on my site and also quite a bit has been written on it… Exposure of its poor treatment of (6,000 inmates) changed the nature of mental health administration in New York State in the US.
      Hope you and your family are well!



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