by Steve Kim
Steve Kim can draw absolutely perfect academic classical portraits. This portrait is one from a series called ‘Perfect’. The subjects of these portraits are owners of a Tumblr, the name of the piece being their Tumblr handle. These people volunteered a photo of themselves for Steve to draw.
He starts each portrait as a traditional academic drawing, using colored pencils on paper. After he has made a very accomplished realistic academic rendering of the subject, he starts modifying it, erasing parts, abstracting parts, looking for the essential, vital parts, for the superior, for the perfect portrait.
As a further step of abstraction and perfection he scans the drawing and refines it digitally. Then he adds color. The colors are often outside of CMYK gamut; for print reproduction they have to be re-evaluated, editing the ‘original’ digital image. It’s pure luminous digital color that can only be produced and reproduced on a screen. Primary color that is vital and absolute in its vibrancy.
These portraits flirt with science fiction, but the abstraction is derived from a quest for accuracy and interest in and tenderness for the portrayed. These portraits are closely linked to the spirituality of modernism (as in the work of Mondrian). They seek the same absolute essential truth derived from reality. These are portraits of the digital souls of its subjects.
This portrait of Saltless is a prime example. The high resolution jpg and psd let you see the detail of the original drawing and the effectiveness and crispness of the digital editing. Its intensity and intimacy only really are revealed on, or rather radiating from, your computer screen.
(Bonustip: The original drawing on which this digital piece is based is still available from Supersonic Electronic.)