Part 4, project 6, exercise 2 – drawing my own head

This is a challenge. I’ve discovered that I need my target image to stay still while I negotiate its clints and grykes but that seems to be difficult even when I have only myself to instruct and draw. Two ‘interesting’ drawings of my own head are required for this exercise, but first a series of ‘warm-up’ sketches.

This first is in biro and really just focuses on semi-continuous line making to indicate shape and volume. Think too much and I tend to lose the whole to the (distorted) detail.


Also biro and from a different angle. Interestingly doing this made me see better how profiles work.


Trying for another angle, this is a leaning upward looking crouch of a pose that I really couldn’t hold for long. I look excrutiated and I was. The supplementary images are via different mirrors for different light and result in shapes more indicative of posture than pose, which I like.


This is black conte for a less linear look and it’s via a reflection in a window.  The trick throughout has been getting a sense of eye shape when I have to look up to see how they rest and down to draw them when I can no longer (obviously) see them.


Also black conte. This time I wanted to use a bit of shading to indicate the plane from cheek to ear where that is part of a semi-profile.


The next part of the task is to complete a self portrait then, having critiqued it, complete a second portrait.

Critiquing this first attempt will not be difficult. Capitalising on the heady success of my internet man done in prismacolor pencil, I thought to try inktense blocks and pencils with the idea of loosening up the edges by wetting the medium, allowing it to dry, and then adding detail. I found though that the surface becomes almost unworkable so that not much can be successfully added to create either detail or shade, or make corrections. As a consequence I have an odd-shaped head with unbalanced eyes, a dodgy nose, and insufficient difference in tone to give volume. I like the colours, that’s about all! I think, unless something takes me in another direction by tomorrow, I will stick with the black cartridge and also return to the prismacolor pencils. I also need to find a better drawing position. For all sorts of reasons, I wasn’t able to get the easel and the mirror in the same space so this is essentially a sketch of a sketch.


Today, the chewing gum pose. Prismacolor pencils, no erasing. Weird as it is, I quite like it. I’d moved my big mirror into the conservatory and put it on my big easel then parked a seat nearby and used the second easel to hold the A3 sketchbook. This meant the light came from everywhere – outside, reflected back in the mirror, and from above through the semi-transparent ceiling. I found it easier to make the shapes in this caricature of myself, perhaps because it removed the pressure of that other form of realism – the likeness; although friends might find it more of a likeness than I’ve managed so far. Again though, what is a portrait – a photographic snapshot or something that conveys lilkeness rather than momentary accuracy? It calls to mind the wall of water portrait of Amy Winehouse by Maggi Hambling which would be a mystery to anyone who didn’t know that is what it is but which is said to be exactly her by friends and family.

[My hair is currently aubergine and so the only colour accurately represented here.]


One more, I think.

Soft pastels this time, quick strokes, roaring mouth. I’m quite fond of this! What interests me is that it would almost certainly not have happened without the preceding sketches. Each one has been quite quick – 15-30 minutes – and that really seems to suit my more impressionistic style. No time to get bogged down in detail, lots of big gestural strokes, movement and life over static representativeness. The work-up to it was essential. My goodness, that was fun!


So, for the exercise, the submissions would be images two and three. The first is there as an indicative baseline.


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