Slaying the Cumberbatch: The Saga of Drawing and Redrawing the Elusive Benedict


I've been drawing portraits lately in the evenings, and a couple of my friends innocently requested my next project be Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame. 

Then I lost four days of my life to stalking the wild and wily Cumberbatch.


For folks who have visited lately, you've probably seen some of my drawings. They're of varied success, but usually they bear a reasonable resemblance to their subject matter. And my last two, I had considered actually decent... The interesting and complex-looking Colin Morgan of Merlin...



And my childhood hero, Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman...


So when my buds suggested Mr. Cumberbatch, I was psyched. 

I was cocky.

Little did I know that Benedict Cumberbatch is not of this world. His unusual features (and ALL of them are unusual) are not easily pinned down to paper as actual human faces are.

So after an evening's worth of work scrutinizing my DVD case and spreading graphite around, I was left with this...


Um... no. Not only is he a disembodied head, but that head bore more resemblance to Dexter than Sherlock. Where was the prominent nose? Where was the large distance between nose and mouth? What was up with that hair?

Not to be daunted, I set out on a second quest on the trail of the sly and stealthy Cumberbatch. A second evening of effort using the same photo produced this rough sketch...


Erm...

More Disembodied Head-a-go-go with a TOUCH of Hardy Boys' Parker Stevenson. Also two ears on very different trajectories.


Perhaps it was the photo that was the issue! I decided I needed a different photo, a different angle. That would solve my problems! 

Then I found my paper covered in this...



Is it Beethoven? Napoleon perhaps? Definitely a bit of 18th century composer with French revolutionary tucked in.

I began contemplating how a person could have a large nose, but a short nose at the same time. How can a person's nose be rounded AND pointed? How can it be aquiline AND have a dent in it? How can eyes be small and narrow and angular, yet not look like they're squinting? How can they be pale AND piercing?

But I had promised to do this. Friends were counting on me to come up with the goods. This is a guy lots of women adore-- I had to do the man justice! So I put my sketchbook aside and set-out to rework it the next day...



More Cumberbatchly, YES, but an Angry, Snooty, Cumberbatch. Aged Dickensian Cumberbatch with a bit of Alan Rickman for good measure, and only half a lip and a chin that could cut bread. This old, craggy Cumberbatch clearly smells something he doesn't like... 

And it's US.

By now it had become a point of honor. I would not be defeated. I would draw Cumberbatches until my fingers were claws and I had drawn my last breath.

(Or until I ran out of paper. Whichever came first.)

So just as I was about to question the very meaning of Art, of Life, of all that is good in the world beyond compelling BBC detective series, finally, FINALLY, last night, a different, larger photo helped me see a break in the Case of the Cumberbatch Conundrum. And it was after a night of restless sleep where Baskerville Hounds and Moriarty Minions pursued me, I rose with fresh eyes, to put the finishing touches on this...


"And hast thou slain the Cumberbatch?
Come to my arms, my beamish girl
O frabjous day! Calloo, Callay!"
She cheered and gave a twirl.

(Apologies to Lewis Carroll)

3 comments:

Linda said...

Love it! The pursuit, the persistence, the pay-off!

Jenn Thorson said...

It feels good. I almost can't believe it finally worked.

Janene said...

You finally nailed it! And I've really been enjoying all of your sketches on Facebook. Keep it up!