Dom in Eames chair

Dom in Eames chair

We often rent out people's homes when traveling. Having the opportunity to try out different home styles helps us imagine our future ones. My AirBnb checklist now is "designer furniture". When I booked us a place in Berlin this past may, I jumped at the chance to try out the long coveted Eames chair in one of the listings.

I've admired Ray and Charles Eams' bent wooden designs for years, and wanted to draw the famous Lounge chair since I first saw it in Bauhaus Archive. The shape just screams comfort, and I'm happy to report is is just that.

On one of the afternoons in this artist loft, I sat across from Dom and took photos of him in the chair. I don't think he even noticed what I was doing, and that allowed me to catch him in the most natural poses of our time: scrolling on his mobile phone.

I was inspired by Peter Davis' portraits of people using technology. The specific gadgets we use put a definite time stamp onto a piece, and I am currently on a quest to show my generation. However, the portrait of the chair in question is a mid-century time stamp. I was curious to see what the end result would be.

The bigggest inspiration however are David Hockney's '70s portraits. They show people in their own homes, rooms, and the trendy furniture of the time plays an important role. I also love how they let just the right amount of light into a room.

I first sketched Dom in graphite to map out the tones in a monochrome. I wanted to use the new Windsor Newton inks I got, and I figured I would like the work to have an illustrative quality.

The loft we were in spread out behind the figure, I wanted to use all of it: the row of large windows, and the parallel wall at the end with our host's painting. In so many ways, this is one of my dream apartments: and artist loft in Berlin! What a joy to be able to try out living in it (it is fabulous).

Since this would be the first I use color ink, I carefully tested each pigment and looked for base color palette I would be using. I went online for some inspiration and took this palette as a start.

I ten opened the reference photos I took in Procreate on the iPad, and tested out this scheme quickly in various way to see how they would work with the figure. I didn't want to risk putting too much red as it would swallow up the figure.

As I worked on the figure in ink with watercolor pens, I was careful to dilute the pigments at first. Soon it became evident that the colors dry our lighter like watercolor, and I started adding richer colour. The paper however, did not anticipate so much water and I was frustrated to see it bending out of shape as I approached end.

A video inspired me to combine materials, so I went to add some texture to the materials in the space with wax pastels. They stuck to the ink perfectly and added the rusty beams and brick texture where I wanted. Where I thought it took too much focus away from the figure, I went and diluted it with clear water brush. Gotta love these versatile pastels!

I used a drop picker to let some ink where I wanted it to connect with the otherwise empty floor. In the end I was happy with a somewhat '70s look of the drawing (painting?) and set out to make another one of myself soon.

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