12 June, 2022.
I’ve experimented with a bunch of different versions of this collage/drawing I’m making for the Sunflowers for Ukraine benefit/exhibition. When I say a “bunch,” I really do mean a lot – at least two dozen versions, the earliest ones exploring traditional Ukrainian costume on the figure. I grew uncomfortable with that approach however, as I began to feel as though I might be engaging in cultural appropriation: what right, I asked myself, do I have to use the distinctive pattern designs of another culture’s past? This sketch isn’t documentation or narrative in nature, and it felt, frankly, a bit like I might be using the designs for my own ends. Instead, my story leaned away from that direction and is one of empathy.
After several “getting there” arrangements of the elements, I found myself with this version (below). For a few minutes it seemed to me like it was the final version. The more I studied it, the more I wanted to keep finagling with placement. Eventually, I wound up lowering the collage of my flower drawings in the background so that the main blossom, the one obscuring the face, would be positioned above the others (see my “final” version above). I changed the blouse to a solid black which puts greater emphasis on the figure, and I made the leaf go in front of the hands, draping over them and adding a slight bit of depth. I like that this last revision makes the drawing feel more like the figure is embracing the sunflower.
And this is where I now find myself: wondering if my “final” version really is the final version. I’m pondering the thought of getting out my water-soluble crayons and adding color to the blossom, stem, and leaves of the main sunflower. Or just leaving things alone.
What do you think?