ANNO ÆTATIS MEÆ XXVI

La voilà! The goldpoint drawing in-progress on the easel in my studio glistening in the morning light (it’s north light). This studio shot is very “me”, from the anatomy posters and books, to other books in several languages, masks, and a bottle of white wine vinegar for egg tempera painting. © Darryl Smith, 2019.

Back in gradschool my advisor told me to check out drawings by Hans Holbein the Younger because his subtle touch would resonate with me…which it did. Another teacher 2 years ago told me to look at Alphonse Legros because he also drew in metalpoint, but in a very loose way.

So I essentially had that lovely dichotomy of closed-form and open-form drawing, both of which really guide me whenever I draw. These two artists’ work came to mind as I started my first drawing right out of gradschool. Hans Holbein the Younger did a painting of Hermann von Wedigh III and I found it very interesting that Holbein decided to include his age. Written (or I guess painted) in a golden yellow across the blue background reads “Anno aetatis suae 29.” In this one, there’s an entire 29 years of history behind this man. I liked that idea and wanted to do one of my own.

The drawing in it’s current state in the fresh mornin’ light. I prefer to draw only in natural light. © Darryl Smith, 2019.

It’s a goldpoint drawing on McCoy Clay cover that I bought back in 2016 from New York Central Art Supply (RIP) when they were still around. I have a long way to go but I am excited to use paper again, as I have recently been working on panel prepared with traditional silverpoint ground, and I had a stash of claycoat paper in my studio that was calling my name. (Don’t get me wrong, though, I love panel.)

The title of this piece? Anno aetatis meae XXVI (vicesimo sexto). In English this will translate roughly to “In the 26th year of my life” or in normal speak we’d probably say something like “Self-portrait at the age of 26.” But let’s face it, the Latin and literal translations sound cooler. So far being 26 has been pretty extraordinary: lots of self-evaluation and self-love, and also an immense amount of growth. Which brings me to some very exciting news…

I’m building an army of 2-months worth of panels prepared with traditional silverpoint ground.

…In exactly ONE WEEK I will be on my way to the motherlands. Yes, Italy and Greece. After being more than obsessed with Greco-Roman literature, language, philosophy, and (let’s not forget) the art, I will be going to Assisi, Italy and Athens, Greece for two residencies back-to-back. I can’t even make this up. The residency in Assisi is Arte Studio Ginestrelle and the one in Athens in Athena Standards Residency. I am more than excited to have the opportunity to have space to work on a new visual research and soaking up all these lovely artworks in their respective homes.

I’m thinking of moving away from my usual Dionysian imagery to work on portraiture and dive further into the narrative quality of the human body. The pre-determind goal will be to look primarily at fragmented portrait busts from the Roman empire in Assisi and examine the softness in Cycladic sculpture, but honestly both cities are full of visual information so who knows what will strike me immediately!! I can’t wait to bombard y’all with tons of images and sketches!! It feels good to greet the week with a beautiful Monday Inspiration post where I’ll keep y’all updated on what inspires me in the studio. Hope this inspires you all, too!


Oh yeah the grapevine around my neck in the drawing? Totally forgot to explain that. I have a feeding tube scar from surgery when I was a child and the vine will poke out of it in the drawing. The vine feeds me so much information, meriment, and passion. I somehow managed to make my self-portrait Dionysian. Vine here is metaphor, but this too shall be explained in a hopefully-not-long post about Dionysos himself. Stay tuned for that!!

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