Recently I started drawing images from films in my sketchbook. I draw them from memory, at almost thumbnail size, within a day or two of seeing the movie. I’m finding it a good way to keep a dialogue going with a film, recording images that struck me in some way. It’s part film diary, part swipe file… As a drawing exercise, in its modest way it follows the tenet of DaVinci among other artists that images should be created from memory–the emphasis thus placed on alertness and recall over direct observation and recording.
The first one is from Jean-Luc Godard’s Le Mépris (Contempt), which I saw at Film Forum recently. I drew these with very little penciling in my Moleskine. The first still is a statue of Poseidon which appears against a shocking blue sky throughout the film as a kind of silent chorus. The second still is what I consider to be a classic Godard composition: a complicated interior space with lots of frames and vertical barriers separating the alienated characters (the figure directly facing Michel Piccoli is in fact a statue).
You can come across some beautiful shots in otherwise mediocre films. For example: Santo Contra el Rey del Crímen. As much affection as I have for masked wrestlers and their loony, surrealist aura, the truth is that most Santo movies are really turgid affairs. But they always have a few memorable scenes and images. The first one here shows “young” Santo about to don the mask for the first time. The figure in the mirror is his Alfred-like butler/assistant Matías. I really like the mannered framing, meant to conceal Santo’s true identity from us. The second image is more typical of the kind of cool, Orson Welles/Alex Toth chiaroscuro you’ll sometimes see.