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Project Self Portrait Page 124

February 8, 2013

I just received my assignment 3 review (23/12/12). I understand I should explore tone and look at figurative artists such as Frida Kahlo.

Using tone in graphites

Using tone in graphite

I need to develop a greater range of tonality in general. While the person who commissioned this piece was delighted by the accuracy of the likeness, it is very tight and controlled. It lacks expressivity. Graphite tends to make me work in a pricise manner and some might argue the piece is lacking in character.

To extend my expressive vocabulary I attempted an oil paint dry brush piece.

Frida Kahlo in dry brush oil,

Frida Kahlo in dry brush oil (WIP)

The subject curiously enough is Frida Kahlo herself directly applicable to my Assignment 3 feedback. I blogged this experiment in my learning log and note an immediate impact on the range of tonality produced. I love Kahlo’s work and I am exploring  the notion that a portrait is more than the likeness of the skin surface visible to the world. There should be the attempt to capture the essence of an individual. I am therfore happy that the first sketches are executed rapidly (5 minutes) in an attempt to record something of that essence in a spontaneous ( and therefore less contrived) reaction.

Exercise Drawing your face page 124

Several five minute sketches

A4  5 minute graphite

A4 5 minute graphite

Obviously done at the end of Movemeber with additional facial hair. Right profile. Tricky pacing the time to 5 minutes even with setting a timer. The temptation to keep going after the bell was very strong

A4 5 minute graphite sketch

A4 5 minute graphite sketch

Another temptation was to use a rubber. Hoever, tere is a certain quality added to a picture with the scribble in. Adding tone for my formerly dark hair and mapping in some planes to give the face volume. I really do look this rough.

img113

A4 5 minute graphite sketch

People who know me report a dazed, absent expression and petted lower lip. This is my favourite of the set. Not over-worked and the expression sums me up.

A4 5 minute graphite sketch

A4 5 minute graphite sketch

I positioned these in reverse order. This early sketch has only the crown and messed up hair to commend it.

A4 5 minute graphite sketch

A4 5 minute graphite sketch

I look really haggered in this one. It was the first and is quite a reasonable likeness although I do not typically view myself from this angle. The bridge of the nose needs correcting but is otherwise fine. I enjoyed the pressure of working against the clock as it forced me to be instinctive.

Five more quick sketches

The shape of the head

A3 of head shapes in graphite

A3 of head shapes in graphite

It is hard to visualise your own head from angles difficult to maintain. I have tried to show some facial planes for the temples, cheekbones and eye sockets. The text in the course literature suggest quick sketches so I have avoided corrections

Draw the shape of the neck repeatedly.

Exercise: A Self Portrait page 127

I was inspired by William DeKooning on page 46 of Experimental Drawing by Robert Kaupelis to use thinned enamel paint. I liked the feel of rapid execution and the course visceral nature of the mark-making.However, it has a long-lasting and umpleasant smell.

Self portrait using enamel paint thinned with Zest-it

Self portrait using enamel paint thinned with Zest-it

The image is very dark but that leaves a little extra work for the viewer to do. Is it necessary to spell everything out to the” reader” of a picture? I loved working this way and so decided to left my face left and try again.

Another self portrait with thinned enamel

Another self portrait with thinned enamel

I seem to be squinting a bit in this one as I study my features with my glasses on. Different cartridge paper this time but the thinned enamel sinks and dries quickly. The thickly applied darks take longer. My jaw and mouth are set determined and the overall effect is raw and unforgiving.

A4 one hour graphite study

A4 one hour graphite study

The procedure was followed very precisely according to the course literature (P126). I did research on portraiture that led me to P96 of Giovanni Civardi’s ” Drawing: A Complete Guide” where he maps out the head and face method in greater detail. I stopped on the one hour mark just after adding some highlights with blu tak and an electric eraser.

Exercise Portrait from Memory page 128

Several sketches of individual features

A4 page Individual features in 4B

A4 page Individual features in 4B

Some studies of my own face prior to my self portrait from memory.

A4 page sketches of my own individual features

A4 page sketches of my own individual features

I found it very hard looking at bits of myself in a hand held mirror, remembering what I saw between glances before I jotted it down.  The activity was challenging but rewarding.

Self -portrait from memory

A4 ink pen on photocopy paper

A4 ink pen on photocopy paper

In my head this is not the mirror image I see. In my imagination I appear to have flipped things around. I also appear much thinner as I was before I developed M.E. and slightly anxious. But all the usual landmarks are there. Scars, furrows and receding hairing. I recognise an interpretation of myself. An inner likeness not observed in my facial topography only.

Self portrait from memory using oils

Self portrait from memory using oils

I wanted to experiment with skin tones. I have been looking at Jenny Saville’s skin tones and teaching Francis Bacon in art appreciation so these may have been subconscious influences. They were drawn with a pallette knife using Griffin Alkyd and will be over drawn with oil pastels. In a sense these are a dummy run for my assignment five when I intend to do a very large portrait in the style below.

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One Comment
  1. Effective… I like it.

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