Abstract Expressions

My brother cried when I took him on a walk, years ago. We took an unfamiliar route in the neighborhood of his group home. Mike is autistic, low functioning an nonverbal, and must have hated not knowing where we were going. I always had my camera with me back then. I was using my photography to try understanding him.

I snapped a photo as Mike was crying. It was a big, kind of scared cry as I remember. Last night, I was thinking about Mike’s expression in the photograph. Its defining features are the creases in his cheeks caused by his mouth, open in mid cry; and his squinted, crescent-moon eyes.

Today’s watercolors

I needed an area large enough to swing a brush, for today’s portraits, so I used 12″x16″ paper, larger than the 9×12 I usually use. I wanted to put some energy into the strokes, just as there was energy in Mike’s expression.

Watercolor: Portrait - Abstract Expression 1

Abstract Expression 1
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I must have ignored the placement of the strokes in my enthusiasm. The stroke representing Mike’s mouth is very close to the edge of the paper.

I tried again, with more attention to the strokes on the paper.

Watercolor: Portrait - Abstract Expression 2

Abstract Expression 2
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

This time, I lost concentration and the mouth did not come out as I intended. I curved the upper part of the mouth in the wrong direction.

The portraits above could be entitled ‘Comedy’ and ‘Tragedy’, since one appears sad and the other happy.  They also point out the ambiguity between the two emotions, visually.

Here is the photo of Mike I used for reference.

Photograph: Mike is Upset on a Walk in Unfamiliar Territory

Mike, Upset on a Walk

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