An Age of Indigo is my most recent portrait, drawn solely with coloured pencils. The woman we find ourselves smiling back at has such a presence, she seems to have the ability to connect with all who see her through the universal language of a smile.
In Vietnam covering your mouth when smiling is a sign of modesty. And although we cannot see her mouth at all, there is no doubt as to her expression thanks to the way her eyes are lit up with joy, and the lines carved into her skin speak of the thousands of moments of laughter and joy through her life. This fact speaks strongly to me, as whilst we can readily admire the physical legacy of emotion in the form of wrinkles on her face, we are all too often condemning anything other than a youthful complexion on our own. I choose to embrace the privilege that is aging, and to welcome the lines on my skin which will speak for me of all the emotions I have felt during my lifetime. I think there are few things more beautiful than a broad smile with the traces of thousands of smiles shining with it.
The blue of her fingers is thanks to decades of hand dyeing cloth with the leaves of the indigo plant, tucked away in the hills above Sapa.
Whilst drawing this portrait I scanned the picture at eight stages along the way. This documentation of the process is a visual diary for me, and a way to share how I work and what goes into creating an artwork like this. I post the steps on my Facebook page in the Works in Progress album so my followers can join me on the journey. I love this opportunity to connect the solo work of an artist in her studio in Cornwall with a worldwide audience, sharing my thoughts at each point along the way.
This wonderful woman has been such good company on my drawing board, and I am glad to have had this time getting to know her. I will be looking to exhibit this portrait at the next opportunity, and have already begun work on another coloured pencil drawing which will join her to make a pair of portraits.
The original artwork, limited edition prints and greetings cards featuring An Age of Indigo are available to purchase, please contact me directly for more information.
A great many thanks go to Rehahn Photography for his generosity in allowing me to reference his incredible photograph.