Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Portrait Train Kept a Rollin'

Another portrait, this time of mathematician Mel Henriksen, a research colleague of my father's who passed away recently. This will hang in the math offices of the school where he taught, Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California.

I knew Mel a little bit - he and my father worked on a number of papers together in the 1980s. I remembered him as a jocular, somewhat socially oblique man - as all genius-level mathematicians are. An early girlfriend of my father's once told my dad that he was 'beyond manners.' And why not?

At any rate, Mel always struck me as a really positive presence, so watercolors felt the right fit to memorialize him. I was originally planning to go with my default 'Illustrator Dave' technique, which is a basic watercolor wash, textures and volume added with colored pencils, and then given contour with brown ink. But as I worked on the watercolor phase on this, I realized that the colored pencils and ink weren't necessary - which actually makes this a unique piece by me, since I always fall back on them.

The final result feels less cartoony and more naturalistic than my work normally does, and for that, I'm pleasantly surprised. Hopefully, my father and Mel's colleagues like the finished work. And I hope Mel does, too.



Ansley said...

Maybe your best work.

Dave Kopperman said...

Thanks - I definitely feel like I got past some kind of self-imposed block with this. Turns out that embracing process works wonders.