M.C. Escher Kiri-e



(Finished kiri-e)

I really like M.C. Escher, and I think that a number of his pieces lend themselves to the kiri-e approach (cut-paper pictures). So, I was looking for other projects to try, and his self-portrait caught my eye. The challenge was to translate the pencil/woodblock shading effects into what’s essentially a simple stencil design. The result is that Escher has a lot more solid black in his hair and beard than was in the original drawing. This makes him look almost 20 years younger in my version. But, I think that the overall finished picture looks close enough to the original for government work.

In the original, the white portion of the shirt collar was the same as the white of his skin, his eyes were black, and the detailed edges of his black jacket were the same color as for the rest of the jacket. I debated over how to handle this and how much color I should introduce. I have a sheet of pink construction paper that would have been perfect for the skin tone, but it took me too far from what Escher had been trying to do. So, I just used brown for the pupils, an off-white for the shirt collar just to differentiate it a bit from the skin of his neck, and then for the jacket I took the black paper I used for the cut-out and turned it over so that the unpatterned side would contrast with the patterned face of the cut-out. The jacket effects don’t stand out as much in the scan as they do in the real thing, so I’ve included the cut-out below to show what that looked like before I glued the other stuff in.


(Raw cut-out)

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