The essential line


When looking at the face of someone we know well it’s possible to recognise the essential likeness of a person through the most minimal and simplest of lines. Indeed, it was one simple, yet essential line which became the instantly, recognisable and uncanny profile of the infamous filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock.

For the artist Del Kathryn Barton the essential line is the key component in her approach to the portraiture process. This video of the artist reveals the detailed, intimate and often gruelling process Barton undergoes in the search for a true likeness.

Barton describes the exhaustive variations of investigating her subject to familiarise herself with the architecture of Weaving’s features.

From multiple and repetitive sketches, to staged photographic stills with floral props and twiggy halos, Barton describes the exhaustive variations of investigating her subject to familiarize herself with the architecture of Weaving’s features.

We also see into the artist’s specific interest in permanent mark-making mediums – with studio drawers filled solely with hundreds of Staedler marker pens. An unforgiving medium which allows the artist one chance, and one chance only, to make her mark Barton describes: It’s the sense that you have to commit in that moment and be absolutely present on all levels, and it’s extremely difficult. In my practice, drawing portraiture in that style, that once you’ve made a mark it’s very hard to modify that mark, it doesn’t get any harder than that.

Get up close and personal with Barton’s winning portrait in the 2013 Archibald Prize exhibition–now touring in NSW.

In this article

Glasshouse Regional Gallery

Mid-North Coast

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