In honor of the upcoming Rome Masters, self-diagnosed Rogerholic, photographer and GTT contributing writer Kathy Woodward is interviewing artistic Roger Federer fans (including herself) who use the tennis Maestro as Muse. Our gratitude to Kathy for recruiting the artists and our thanks to the artists for sharing their work. Enjoy! -F.F.
His deft and delicate drop shot; a brush stroke on canvas. Tenaciously chipping away an opponent’s solid game; he sculpts a masterpiece. Damp clay; the plaster for his footwork frescoes. As the 2010 clay season moves to Rome, the 16th century city of Da Vinci and Michelangelo, clay court artist Roger Federer will practice his craft. He’s not only the celebrated artist of the sport but the ideal subject of artists. Leonardo Da Vinci himself may have said of Federer: he is a human figure moving naturally, without effort according to his own intentions, gracefully sliding into fluid, violent strokes.
As Renaissance man Roger Federer glides through his red plaster, I will be profiling artistic Federer fans in their own words this week who are inspired by the maestro to capture his likeness in their own artistic ways. We begin with Roger captured in realistic pencil drawings.
She says pencil drawing has always been a fun past time for her. She admits she’s never-ever had plans of perfecting her skills or drawing professionally. Chloe, believe it or not, is not even an art student and can’t remember when she first began drawing. A high school senior living in south eastern Hungary, she plans to be a translator some day. Her talent doesn’t run in the family though she has an ultimate drawing idol in Danish artist Zindy Nielson.
Q: Do use use any other type of media besides pencil?
Chloe: I wish! There are so many instruments I’d love to master, especially charcoal – but unfortunately moving to other areas of art is like learning a new language. The thought of you not being able to use it properly for years is a good enough reason to chicken out.
Q: Why do you prefer pencil?
Chloe: Mostly because I don’t have any other choice. But what I find really endearing about them is that you can always erase, erase and erase – hide your mistakes and work carefully. If I didn’t have the chance to cancel a move, I’d never have the guts to draw a line.
Q: How long does typically it take to draw a portrait?
Chloe: Just to be able to answer this question, I was timing my latest sketch (above). It took me 6 hours altogether. Usually it takes about 8 hours but I guess it’s decreasing. I still think that’s a lot of time – when I look at the end result I never understand what on earth could’ve took me so many hours in it. I mean, I see the details I spent long-long minutes on and they look as if they were just “thrown” there in a couple of second.
Q: When did you begin following Roger’s career?
Chloe: I’ve been playing tennis since 2004 and despite the fact that Roger was becoming the most famous tennis professional at that time, I barely even knew he existed. I had never watched tennis on TV until in May 2008 I accidentally switched to a sport channel and he was on.
Q: Describe what it was like the first time you saw him play.
Chloe: Instant shock! I never intended to watch TV that afternoon but seeing the Roger Federer for the first time, my jaw dropped and I was hooked in about three minutes. He was so focused and serious and his every move so perfect and spectacular, like a well-composed dance. I couldn’t believe that tennis could be played so beautifully. Love at first sight! From that moment on, I was watching every single match he played and I hope to see him live one day.
Q: Why is Roger your preferred subject?
Chloe: I always draw those people whom I’m fascinated by or attracted to. I’ve created a bunch of portraits of all my celebrity favourites. Now, Roger is next in line. I find him very beautiful and it is a pleasure to stare at his face for hours. After the sketch is done and I shut my eyes, I can still see him burnt onto my closed eyelids.
Q: What specifically about his features are appealing to draw?
Chloe: Should I give a fangirly answer to this question? I love to take my time on his hair. I love that his skin in so smooth and flawless that I barely have to work on it and it still looks real! His lips, however, are the most difficult to capture well. I think drawing his lips define whether a portrait turns out good or bad in the end.
Q: If Roger was an artist what kind of artist would he be?
Chloe: But he IS an artist! And he’s definitely the greatest contributor to his own art, ballet-like insuperable tennis. One for sure, he’s not going to become a star singer later on! (“We are the Swiss, the mighty mighty Swiss…”) Roger’s chant at a celebration after winning Davis Cup 2009 against Italy….hilarious!
Q: How do you choose what to draw?
Chloe: I’m very fastidious. I have a database of almost 6000 photos of Roger (crazy much?) but I only found about 20 I was/would be able to draw. Of course it’s very important that the photo is large in size, sharp, full of details, differs from my previous works and has nice light-shadow contrast (but not too much, because my pencils can’t produce total black darkness). And then, obviously, the person in the photo has to look good too.
Q: Can you explain how Roger’s game inspires you in your work?
Chloe: I guess his tenacity, his never-say-die attitude is what characterizes my work too. Once he steps on court, he doesn’t quit. Once I sit down at my table, I won’t stop trying to reproduce the photo reference until I’m sure I did everything. We’re both perfectionists.
By Kathy Woodward.