Project: Self Portrait.

Exercise: Drawing your face

Several quick sketches of your head.

Several quick sketches of your head.

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Over all shape of head without neck.

Over all shape of head without neck.

Draw the shape of your neck repeatedly in your sketchbook. Keep altering your drawing if it does not seem right.

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This exercise seems peculiar to me – I hope I understood it correctly.

Exercise: A self portrait

A self portrait using graphite pencil stick.

A self portrait using graphite pencil stick.

The drawing above has a lot of lines which you cannot see very well at this scale, but if you click the images they get enlarged.

Self portrait: A3 pastel drawing on pink textured pastel paper.

Self portrait: A3 pastel drawing on pink textured pastel paper.

Pink pencil crayon study

Pink pencil crayon study

For this drawing I used a deep pink and a pastel pink pencil crayon.  I used line to build up the shape of the head, neck, shoulders, face and hair, then I added tones to give the impression of form.

A3 blue ink drawing using ink and brush - I used a broad brush in response to feedback from my tutor.

A3 blue ink self-portrait – 1 uncropped

A3 blue ink drawing using ink and brush – I used a broad brush in response to feedback from my tutor.

I have made four self portrait drawings (A3 in size) using blue ink.  I wanted to thoroughly explore the media.  After making four drawings I realise I have only just touched the surface of the potential of inks, but it is a good start, I think.

I am including photos of each page twice – one cropped and one not cropped.  This is because it is important to show the whole drawing entirely, but also because the pages got very curled by the water and ink, so it is a little distracting to see the space around the distorted page.

A3 blue ink self-portrait - 1 cropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait – 1 cropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait - 2 uncropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait – 2 uncropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait - 2 cropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait – 2 cropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait - 3 uncropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait – 3 uncropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait - 3 cropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait – 3 cropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait - 4 uncropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait – 4 uncropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait - 4 cropped

A3 blue ink self-portrait – 4 cropped

These drawings were a good opportunity to explore the effects of water and inks.  It demonstrates and the possibilities of media which is unpredictable as well as being fairly permanent and immediate.  You are forced to make quick decisions which make marks which cannot be undone or rubbed out.  They make dramatic images.

***

After reading about Degas’ work I came across his painting “Self Portrait in a soft hat”.

Degas - Self Portrait in a soft Hat, 1857-58

Degas – Self Portrait in a soft Hat, 1857-58

This opened up the idea to me that a self portrait could be varied depending on things like wardrobe, which had not occurred to me before.  So I decided to explore making a series of self portrait drawings around this idea.  (I suppose that other things you could emphasise in a self portrait would be props, background or colours for example.)

Self portrait in white T-shirt. Oil pastel on A3 textured paper - paper is yellow.

Self portrait in white T-shirt.
Oil pastel on A3 textured paper – paper is yellow.

Self portrait wearing my glasses. Self portrait in oil pastel on A3 textured paper - paper is yellow - cream, but this does not seem to show in the picture. Self portrait wearing my glasses. Self portrait in oil pastel on A3 textured paper - paper is yellow

Self portrait wearing my glasses. Self portrait in oil pastel on A3 textured paper – paper is yellow

Self portrait wearing a purple hat. Self portrait in oil pastel on A3 textured paper - paper is yellow

Self portrait wearing a purple hat.
Self portrait in oil pastel on A3 textured paper – paper is yellow

Self portrait wearing a coloured headscarf. Self portrait in oil pastel on A3 textured paper - paper is green and you can see it better in this picture.

Self portrait wearing a coloured headscarf.
Self portrait in oil pastel on A3 textured paper – paper is green

In “Self portrait wearing a coloured headscarf” I have drawn in details of the room behind me.  I think this gives the drawing more depth and adds colour and context, which is positive.

Making these drawings has been a good experience in developing media techniques as well as enlightening as to how much possibility for drawing there is in drawing the same subject (yourself) over and over again.  I feel I have barely touched the surface.

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Self portrait in a hand knitted beret.

 Exercise: A portrait from memory

Practising features of the face:img021 img022Eyes and glasses:  I keep drawing the eyes too big.

In this drawing from memory I made his face too wide and his eyes are not right either.  I think this might be due to drawing his glasses too small from memory.  His hair was short shaved, so I think next time I draw that sort of hair I will use dots or dashes, to illustrate the texture.

In this drawing from memory I made his face too wide and his eyes are not right either. I think this might be due to drawing his glasses too small from memory. His hair was short shaved, so I think next time I draw that sort of hair I will use dots or dashes, to illustrate the texture.

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This was the second portrait from memory of the same person. I found it easier to draw him the more preparatory studies I made.

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Another memory portrait, drawn just after meeting someone.

Another memory portrait, drawn just after meeting someone.

Click here to view my research point for investigating artist self portraits.  

Check and Log - Copy (3)

Which drawing materials produced the best results?  Why? 

Oil pastels, because they can make colour and tone and line very easily.  They are adaptable and you can layer them.  I liked using inks but I think the inks did not work so well as the pastels in this context.  Inks have good linear qualities.

Does your self portrait look like you?  Show it to a couple of friends or family members and note down their comments.

My family think that my “Self portrait in a purple hat” looks most like me.

Self portrait wearing a purple hat. Self portrait in oil pastel on A3 textured paper - paper is yellow

Self portrait wearing a purple hat.
Self portrait in oil pastel on A3 textured paper – paper is yellow

They also said that my head is a little bit too small in some of my drawings.

Did you find it easy to convert your sketches into a portrait?  Were your preliminary drawings adequate?

I found that it was tricky drawing from memory, my preliminary drawings were not adequate at first, so I went back and did some more.  It was difficult to draw the shape of a face the way I remember it, and so this affected the appearance of the person’s face.  I will practise this task further.

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