Peekaboo

Here are some quick practice sketches for a series of drawings called ‘Peekaboo’.

I’ve always loved drawing people’s faces and am fascinated by human expressions. But this time I wanted to explore what happens when we can’t get that information. I think it’s a very primal thing – ‘reading’ a person’s face – or showing someone your own face. And I believe it can be an equally powerful, even disturbing, experience to be prevented from doing so.

I decided to look at people covering their eyes or faces. It means we have to get the information we would otherwise have from their face by looking at their body language. As the viewer it make us try to guess why the person is hiding and we start to build a story around it. It can also feel uncomfortably voyeuristic, as if we’re intruding, or as if we shouldn’t be looking if they can’t see us.

I invited models of all ages and shapes to pose and said they could be as dressed (or undressed) as they wanted. I thought the important part of the image would be their behaviour rather than their shape. I wanted the models to choose their own poses, too; standing, crouching, facing away… I asked them to think of what covering their eyes meant to them; situations when they might cover their faces. Some thought of being playful, for example, or tired; hiding themselves or hiding emotions.

I think there’s a vulnerability to a person who has their eyes covered (they can’t see who’s watching them). It’s also withholding information from us; it can be quite private and exclusive.

At the moment I’m using heavy pencil line drawings. I want the image to be pared down – quite stark; it seems to fit in with the ‘puzzle’ element of the idea. I’m also thinking about trying to use them as a basis for a lino or wood cut print. Again, I like the mixture of the simple, graphic quality with the (hopefully) quite complex, possibly confrontational, subject matter.

I hope you like them! I’ll post more pictures as I track down more models and as I try different media.