For this exercise I placed myself in front of the bathroom mirror and trying to find interesting poses that I still can manage to observe and draw.
To warm up I did a few 5 min sketches in different media and approaches.
For the first self face drawing I was wondering which media and format to use. My sketches were done in my A4 sketchbook so I wanted to ‘scale up’ smoothly. I decided for A3 format paper. As medium I decided on my experimental combination of graphite and white gouache. I did in this combination my townscape serie (see my post) as well initial sketches on the figure in project 2 ‘longer study’ (see my post). I found that the combination of a wet medium and a dry medium can bring a special visual effect to the ‘landscape’ of my face. First I placed in the light areas with a middle wider brush white gouache and continued in the still wet surface with a graphite pen. This gave me a quite intimate sensation of modelling the surface like touching the skin and modelling in clay. As I went along the gouache dried and my markings especially in the shadows areas became drier as well, more line oriented and with a slightly different color tone.
I enjoyed my approach and I think I will work more on this combination perhaps in different manners.
What could be done better?
I’ve shown this picture to my wife (as she knows quite well my characteristic facial features) and for her it shows quite a liking. However, the left eye is not completely correct and the nose shows a slight disproportional aspect. The overall proportions and angles are correct. The free above the right eye in the shadow area seems a bit awkward and a bit too light. In combination with the background shadow marks (repetition of same markings on the face) this gives the image a certain ambiguity
Do the proportions, angles, tones, etc., work? Note down your thoughts to help you when you begin work on your second self-portrait. Look at it in the mirror and see if there are measuring issues. Look at it upside down and from a distance. This helps you see with different eyes.
For the second image I choose an upward view with me looking downward (I tried this out first in my sketchbook). Not that easy to draw but with time and experience I found a way to observe and partly to draw than from memory. I decided to go larger in scale (A2) and for dry medium only: charcoal and Conté crayon. I selected those as I wanted to experiment more in the context of Guy Denning and Kathe Kollwitz (see reference) and see how I could combined both approaches.
I worked heavily back and force first in charcoal and rubber, following by white crayon addition and towards the end I added with sanguine crayon slightly marks for more color on the face. After a while I decided that the drawing was finished, but after the next day I went back, not pleased, and decided to work more on this one.
With more expression I worked harder into the surface with white crayon and charcoal till I was satisfied with the final results and the depiction of my mood at that time.
Showing this one to my wife she immediately recognised the liking of eyes, nose, mouth. I tried to adjust the length of the neck although measuring in that pose was a challenge.
Comparing the two self-portraits I can see that I approached the subject quite differently. In the first one I worked smoother with the wet/dry combination as if touching my own skin. By that I achieved a quite good representation of myself. In the second one I worked harder in the paper surface to find the forms and expressions more intensively. Besides the different pose, the visual effect is also quite different.
- Which drawing materials produced the best results? Why?
=> If I have to decide I would say the second one gives the better results as I was able to work harder and more intense on the subject. This reflected a bit my mood at that time. The first one was a bit more delicate (besides scale) that needed a more calm approach from my side. Nevertheless the result achieved was quite head on.
- I didn’t work on get a liking of myself, I was more into drawing the forms and surface expressions. It astonished me that the liking comes just naturally with the process (compared with my quick 5min sketches were I was perhaps too distant and to absorbed with overall forms)
- How difficult was it to move on from sketches of individual features to a full
=> After studying the facial features in exercise 1 and having already build different feature together, the final face and head drawing was not that difficult any longer
- My applied wet/dry combination is harder to control, however I like to visual effect of what it makes to my markings.
– Studying different viewpoints either with two mirrors. or what I figured out with a video recorder at any viewpoint and presented on the wall through a projector.
- Guy Denning: [Online Image] Available from: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2012/12/the-daily-sketches-of-guy-denning/ [Accessed 23 September 2015]
- Kate Kollwitz ‘Frau mit totem Kind‘, [Online Image] Available from: http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/lot.64.html/2014/prints-n09216 [Accessed 23 September 2015]