Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Portrait in line and tone

 Self- portrait combining line and tone (Charcoal, Conté crayon, rubber – A1)

Stefan513593 - part 4 - assignment 4 - Three

Stefan513593 – part 4 – assignment 4 – Three

Now this study should be ambitious and experimental, I assume more than the other two. Well I took this up as my own challenge, also to see how much I can overcome my hurdles with scale, colour, and getting my sketchbook free appeal into this drawing.

I decided for a self-portrait, not only because I really wanted to avoid using of any photographs or even reference sketches for pose accuracy. But also because I wanted to make a drawing that depicts my mood, my reflection in the context of this course and assignment. I really enjoyed part 4 as I’ve learned tremendously.

I started a bit differently as for the two first pieces. I looked first contextually to see what kind of approach I would take. I already was so intrigued especially by Frank Auerbach for his physical approach and constant search for forms and expression as key element of the drawing process as well as by Jenny Saville for her visual effect of multilayered images. I looked at some of my previous exercise as a starting point.

Stefan513593 - part 4 - assignment 4 - Three - contextual studies

Stefan513593 – part 4 – assignment 4 – Three – contextual studies

Stefan513593 - part 4 - assignment 4 - Three - contextual studies 2

Stefan513593 – part 4 – assignment 4 – Three – contextual studies 2

As I struggled with how to draw ‘movement’ I though that some works of Auerbach and Saville are showing indeed ‘movement’ through indicative lines and several images on the picture plane.

I continued with some sketches, applying lines, several lines, rubbing off drawn shapes, several poses etc.

Stefan513593 - part 4 - assignment 4 - Three - sketches

Stefan513593 – part 4 – assignment 4 – Three – sketches

With that I went to my next scale up sketchbook (A3) and started to include colored marks (inspired by the colored flesh of Saville and color usage by Guy Denning). Looking at slightly different poses.

Stefan513593 - part 4 - assignment 4 - Three - sketches A3

Stefan513593 – part 4 – assignment 4 – Three – sketches A3

and as a next step trying to get things together. At this stage I was thinking beyond drawing approaches but also about concept and the context as described above: Why do I draw myself? What do I want to express? What elements can support?

So I thought to include my contextual researches as collage (as the mentioned artists truly had influence on my approach). But where to out them? Left or right?

Stefan513593 - part 4 - assignment 4 - Three - developed studies

Stefan513593 – part 4 – assignment 4 – Three – developed studies

I feel that these two sketchbook studies are already quite good drawing by themselves.

What could I add to it in my larger drawing?
=> I think the drawing process as such, to investigate more forms and spaces. Using my media and my approach to explore a drawing.

Remarks on my setting:
During the process so far I used one studio lamp (at one time from the left and the other time from the right). Instead of using mirrors (as described in my exercise on ‘My own Face’) I used a video camera and a projector. By that I could place the camera at any point (higher, lower) and look for my drawing at the will with my mirrored image. Strangely I had to get used to the mirrored effect, having a life model in front of me is different. I think this mirror effect was reflected on already by several artists in art history. One examples are some work of Avigdo Arikha (see my research on self portrait)

I felt ready to start my drawing. I decided for a hot press paper (I experienced that I could make more varieties of markings compared to cold press), charcoal and rubber for the majority of te drawing, Conté crayon for further down the road line markings (black Conté crayon make just deeper black marks than charcoal) and a light yellow/orange Conté crayon for highlighting fleshy elements, white Conté crayon for the majority of wide markings (with the side of the crayon) to create atmosphere (inspired by Jenny Savillle and Guy Denning and in very few works by Frank Auerbach)

Stefan513593 - part 4 - assignment 4 - Three - step 1-2

Stefan513593 – part 4 – assignment 4 – Three – step 1-2

The forms and expressions are clearly not yet done at al, still a lot more markings to do. It didn’t bother me as I felt very confident the final result will come at some time (and I didn’t when this will be). Working in the negative space in parellel.

Stefan513593 - part 4 - assignment 4 - Three - step 3-4

Stefan513593 – part 4 – assignment 4 – Three – step 3-4

More markings, starting with added color on the face. Forms are coming across (some proportions still not right). Starting to work more on both positive and negative spaces. Using white crayon and charcoal to combine both spaces. Stepping back from smaller forms to bigger forms. Getting more expressive in my markings. Final result on top this post. Unfortunately I tried to get the best photo of the work. I do not know why, but it seems that the combination of charcoal and light crayon color is a challenge for the camera. I truly prefer the original one (my tutor will see it).

In this drawing I experienced again the issue with fixative on Conté crayon. As I didn’t use a pastel ground (because I wanted to work on charcoal) especially the white crayon marks are getting washed out by this. Therefore I had to reapply the markings again (quite disturbing experience). But I also had to use fixative in order to get multiple layers of charcoal and white crayon on top of each other. Otherwise it would have been just a greyish mess. And I had to ship the original to my tutor and didn’t know how else I could protect it in the lightweight portfolio with my other drawings.

Overall, I captured (surprisingly?) the searching, the tension, and the outlook of my mood and feelings while working through assignment 4. Although I feel happy and relaxed now after finding my approach. 


  • Scale and free expressive appeal of my sketchbook works: I did more developed studies in my A3 sketchbook. It really helped to keep my free expression on larger scale flowing.
  • Colour: I am not so satisfied with the photograph, seems a bit out of scope. But I like to yellowish color (I didn’t try to match the color of my flesh) as it gives a different dimension to it (tested in my sketchbook studies)
  • Contextualization: First I thought to do a purely Auerbach study of myself in charcoal only. Revisiting and looking at other works from Saville I decided a combined approach and I am glad for this.
  • My drawing process was so engaging to me as I really could experience physically the properties of my used media. The process of drawing is so much rewarding to me compared to ‘executing’ a drawing (from sketches, photographs) – were one would have the final picture nearly ready in one mind.
  • It still strikes me how without focusing on the figure but rather on key features and expressions brings as a result a drawing that mirrors my state of mood at that time.

Next time:
– My challenge: Using of fixative on Conté crayon in combination with charcoal.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: