Assignment 4, self portrait

The task is to draw a self portrait of any size in any medium and to find an interesting perspective, which means it’s the first time I’ve taken a selfie from below jaw level and discovered my nose has a central deviation to the right. It’s a wonder the rest of it is lined up as it should be. This is not the up-nostril shot, this is the warm-up, off-centre, eyeball-shift aspect. Biro to see if I can find some shapes that might work.

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Another quick sketch – white conte on black gesso. The aim, unlike the one above, is more gestural. I like making sweeps of medium then applying putty rubber to selected areas to add tone and also maybe movement.

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Two quick experiments: drawn simultaneously using wet gesso mixed with umber ink then shaped with a pen nib, ink spread in the same way, dabbed with towel roll to make tone. The one on the left seems worryingly Trumpian.

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12th September. I’ve moved up to A1 and begun with wet gesso and dabbed ink followed by some black conte when the rest was dry.

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Soft pastel blended with paper towel roll and swept (on the right) to the edge. I’m not quite sure what I want to do with it now, other than something that will give me the feeling that it’s as finished as it’s going to be. Looking at it on-screen helps, as will stepping away overnight, but I know there’s a risk of over-working it so I need to figure out when to stop before I’ve passed that point. I’m pleased to see I look a bit less like Derek Jacobi in ‘I Claudius’ now.

This nose is a bit too central for the slight angle of the head. Can I change that without upsetting everything else?

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Any more adjustments and I could just make matters less satisfactory than now and actually, this might be a relatively recognisable image of myself, at least in my resting state. A photographer friend once said I had a face better suited to video and I’m not going to argue with that!

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I have started some more sketchbook pages prepped with black or white gesso with a view to using the dab technique plus maybe some pen/ink detailing when dry. This first is white gesso on black paper with blended conte and charcoal. The eyes are oddly placed because I wasn’t using either a mirror or a photo for reference. I like the textures though, and the contrast with the putty-rubbered areas that are so smooth.

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This is a little too square and masculine than it should be and I’m not sure the line of sight (looking up into the camera) is too clear. I’ll do some narrowing tomorrow and see how that goes. This soft pastel can be washed off with a wet brush. I like the glasses though.

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Well, this is slightly better although it’s reminding me too much of Thriller! I have some time to spare before submission so I can afford to sit with these and see how I feel.

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I may add to this before submission but my feeling is that I’m as done as I’m going to be with the preparatory work so if anything changes, it will be some part of the submission itself.

After a lot of thought, and for many of the same reasons as pertain to the two other components of this assignment, I have chosen to submit the best of this group rather than try again. It seems possible for almost anything to be better and these pieces certainly, but I do actually quite like this large portrait. I am also grateful to a fellow student for tipping me off about removing masking tape with a hair dryer.

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