Monday, 21 April 2014

Exercise: Self Portrait

These Drawings can be found in sketchbook 6: Pages 19 -23.

My first attempts at a self portrait were done following exercises from a book: "Drawing and Painting People - A Fresh Approach" By Emily Ball (Crowood Press 2009). I found this little book quite inspiring. The first exercise I did involved pushing and pulling around crushed charcoal to try to establish the structure of the face and then working into it with a putty rubber and more charcoal.

May favourite exercise was "Three colours, three brushes, one head". I used gouache for this exercise. One brush was a large decorator's brush, the second was medium sized and the third was a rigger. I started with a few strokes of the large brush to describe the basic structure and rises and falls of the face in just three strokes. The worked with a different colour on each brush to describe the details. I decided not to choose natural-looking colours. On my first attempt I think I overworked it and also the proportions are off with the eyes being too big and the nose too small. Since this was such a rapid way of painting I had plenty of time to try again.

I was much happier with my second attempt. I managed to resist the urge to over embellish it and I think this painting is much more successful. It really captures my sidelong glance and look of frowning concentration. The accidental run of paint below my eye and the downward turn of my mouth leads everyone who sees it to say I look miserable. It isn't the best likeness of me - once again I have elongated my face. I do, however feel this is a successful drawing/painting.

I had another attempt at a colour portrait using Inktense blocks and water soluble coloured pencils on Bockingford paper. I really got bogged down with this one. It has none of the freshness and vitality of the above exercise. I does look like a face but not my face! With this medium I found it very difficult to make alterations as I went along. I sin't possible to erase and only so many layers can be built up. I quite like the gaze of the eyes on this one but otherwise I don't think this drawing is so successful.

This final drawing in charcoal and white conte' crayon is by popular opinion (of my friends and family) the best likeness of myself that I produced. I started this one by putting a mid tune over the whole head and then subtracting and adding until the face emerged. About halfway through the process it looked hopelessly unlike me and cross-eyed. By continuing the process of addition and subtraction I was able to resolve this into a reasonable likeness so I'm glad I persevered.

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