Drawing One Part Four Figures Project Self portrait exercise Drawing your face

Five minute sketches describing different angles of the face and head


Five sketches concentrating on the overall shape of the head without the neck


Draw the shape of your neck:


Having looked at several artists self portraits I attempted to emulate a few


Drawing One Project Four Figures Project self portrait exercise: A self portrait

On the basis of looking at portraits by Freud, Bratby, Gwen John, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Giacometti and PIcasso (see blog  https://bemilne.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/self-portraits-looking-at-freudbratbygwen-john-jean-michel-basquiat-giacometti-and-picasso/   )

I drew several portraits in differing styles using a variety of media:

In pen and ink line with a glare reminiscent of the Bratby portrait as depicted in the OCA handbook:


Again provoked by the mirror view of Bratby in 8B graphite:


Attempting the style of Gwen John soft pencil  with a relatively distracted look, the paper tinted by areas of watercolour drawn in fine pencilIMG_9213

The agitated pencil marks provoked by looking at Giacometti:


In spots dots and dashes after looking at a self portrait by Fransisco de Goya (see below) in charcoal:

Francisco de Goya, Self-Portrait with Three-Cornered Hat, c. 1780-92. Pen and brown ink, with framing line in black chalk, on paper. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.   sourced on line (October 2013 ) from : http://drawingdetail.tumblr.com/post/24883225560/francisco-de-goya-self-portrait-with


Then the two that are my favourites, which in minimal line, are done at an angle which shows the seriousness of face after a life of sixty years (in pen and ink) and a second which is purely sculptural ( in graphite without removing the pencil from the paper) but still gives a little of my character and mood.



Perhaps I need to do a few portraits smiling.

But to add to the images of myself : my foot and ankle:_MG_8992


Drawing One Part Four Project self portrait exercise portrait from memory

This was up to now very unsuccessful -even when taking notes I did not feel I could capture the individual characteristics.IMG_9239These initial drawings were done after noting facial features belonging to Michael Wood (on the history of art Videos), of the professor who was on the video with him , of the narrator of the Australian art series on the television and (below ) from the television personalities -Ian Hislop and Julian (who presents meet the ancestors). I am amazed by some of the relative likenesses where I have picked out  salient features -such as length of face, size of ears,wrinkles and  dropping of eyelids -however being in an “academic” setting their was little feeling with the images.

So I tried a portrait of my husband from notes and sketches: The lighting was low and directional so there was a soft feel to the image, he was tired but relaxed but distracted and concentrating on the cricket on the computer screen (the concentration in the face  in my mind immediately detracted from the mood of the image).  Sketches done very quickly concentrated on the lighting and the face and where the light fell across the face. The upper torso and arms were less  scrutinised and the image I drew from “memory” was very sketchy with limbs and torso in the wrong proportions.



A very disappointing exercise and one that needs working on regularly to enhance my observational skills and recall.

Drawing One Part Four Figures Self Portraits looking at Freud,Bratby,Gwen John, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Giacometti, Picasso and Van Gogh and Log pg 129

Lucian Freud

Artist: Lucian Freud  Start Date: 1939 Completion Date:1940  Style: Expressionism

Genre: self-portrait  Technique: pencil

sourced on line Oct 2013 from: http://www.wikipaintings.org/en/lucian-freud/self-portrait-1940

The face is centrral in the drawing and the eyes staring/the lines depicting the hair are strong determined and short waves. The lightening is frontal and to the sittter’s left. The facial shading is softer hatched and confined to distinct shapes-i.e does not shade into the rest of the face. The face and eyes have a delineated line, the chair behind is made up of short. stronger lines than those on the face. There are soft pencil horizontally hatched shades in the background depicting rectangular forms which contrast against the stronger and more curved forms of the collar and neck

Why is this portrait regarded as expressionistic?  Expressionism: Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas……The term is sometimes suggestive of angst…… ref:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expressionism   sourced on line Oct 2013. There is an emotional angst produced by the short sharp lines used to denote hair (similar to the marks of Van Gogh–and the angular hard lines of the shading on the face, as well as the stare -which as all the eyeball is visible must imply a wide open eyelids as in shock.


Self portrait
John Bratby   approx. exposed area of image inside frame
7in h x 6in w    pencil on paper   sourced on line Oct 2013 from: http://www.room4art.com/details/self-portrait/

quote from above website: “Great quality drawing of one of Britain’s finest 20th Century painters. This work shows the mastery of Bratby’s draughtsmanship and his ability to hold a line.”

Sitting centrally with legs crossed, the artists looks at the viewer with eyes defined by single dark lines. The hair and facial shading follow a left to right flow across the forehead hatched with lines, the cheeks are hatched similkarly in the direction ofouter border of face towardds the nose. The lips are positioned by dark lines and the lips themselves given form and toner with small almost vertical and widely spaced lines. The creases of the clothes flow in single waving lines produceing areas which are filled in with darker sketch on the lighter side (figures right) if the figure, but remain lines overlaid with hatching on the darker side of the figure. The light is from the figures left (he appears to be left handed). The lines of the fingers on the right hand and the left arm are clearly and forcefully drawn and hatched to bring out the shadows. There is minimal background hatching.

Gwen John

English: “Self Portrait” oil on Canvas.
Source http://www.wikigallery.org/
Author Gwen John

source on line Oct 2013 from: http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_198022/Gwen-John/Self-Portrait

Why does Gwen John always remind me of Jane Eyre? Her expression in her self portraits gives nothing away, there is minimal shading, minimal line and her simple dress and pigtails make her portrait very “pathetic” in the manner in which Jane Eyre faces the world , however beneath it all lies hidden strength of purpose. The perfect woman evolving from Victorian England (Gwen John 1876-1939) and finding strength and determination. This picture is described as oil on canvas although it appears to be a drawing, tone and hair colour are represented by a darker shadeof paint and the rest of the image is in fine but accurately determined line. The head is tilted slightly to give it both humility and enquiring and there is no facial expression. The overall image by its shading its facial expression and its stance produces the meekness that I feel reminds me of Jane Eyre.

Jean Michel Basquiat

BASQUIAT Jean-Michel, 1960-1988 (Haiti) Title : Self-portrait

Date : 1984 
Jean Michel Basquiat died of a heroine overdose at age 27yrs
Robert Hughes (the author of “American Visions The epic history of Art in America”  believes his art appealed because of several factors in the minds of the public and art curators:
” quote sourced on line Oct 2013  from:http://www.artchive.com/artchive/B/basquiat.html   “
  “First, the racist idea of the black as naif , “instinctual,” someone outside “mainstream” culture and therefore not to be rated in its terms”:
“Second, a fetish about the freshness of youth, blooming among the discos of the East Side scene”.
“Third, guilt and political correctness, which made curators and collectors nervous about judging the work of any black artist who could be presented as a “victim.”
Fourth, “art-investment mania”.
And last, the audience’s goggling appetite for self-destructive talent”
The image of the head in blacks browns reds and whites is full of geometrical shapes and busy white lines which remind me of the technological age but based on the “primitive art” of Africa or Australasia by its sculptural blocks of colour. The face looks  frightened, the eye surrounding by white line agitatedly going round and round and the white lines like teeth across the mouth area give a feel of shaking,  the figure standing proud but unsure, a long vulnerable neck separated from a thin featureless chest in red. It is difficult to read the picture when the history is known, but it feels full of the energy and uncertainty of youth. It probably tells us far more about the man who painted it than we could ever know.
Alberto Giacometti, “Portrait de Diego,”1958. Black crayon on paper. 9 1/2 × 7 7/8 inches (24 × 20 cm). Private Collection.  sourced on line October 2013 from: http://www.brooklynrail.org/2009/06/artseen/alberto-giacometti-drawings
Giacometti was a Swiss artist, predominantly a sculptor. I have read on a blog that he marked out the lines of relationship between parts of his subject -be it a bottle and the window and then worked into that bringing the observer’s concentration to the predominant parts of the image.
Drawn in his typical geometric style a portrait done in late life:
Picasso, Pablo
Self Portrait Facing Death
Mougins, 30 June 1972
Pencil and crayon on paper
65.7 x 50.5 cmSourced on line (October 2013) from:http://artchive.com/artchive/P/picasso/self8.jpg.html
Wide staring eyes with irregular pupils giving the face a drunken or drugged appearance, an insipid colour of green contrasted against a pink background makes one think of sickliness and ill health, the distressed and agitated purple and black lines demarcating the features of the face and the stubbled unkempt chin and the deep V shaped “cut” into the left facial border give a feel of  pain both physical and psychological.
There are now two things I wish to try in my self portraiture -one is to draw my face in angles and forms in a sculptural Picasso type image and the other is to use the relationshiops between parts of the face to scribble a Giacometti type image.

VAN GOGH  Although well acquainted with Van Gogh’s self portraits in paint I had not till recently seen his drawings

Vincent van Gogh
Drawing, Pencil
Paris: Fall, 1886
Van Gogh Museum
Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Europe
F: 1379, JH: 1196
This portrait in pencil displays all the hard lines of which Van Gogh paints, determined strokes depicting beard hair, hair eyes and outline -with softer but equally single minded strokes as shade -not cross hatched -just lines.It gives the image an agitated feel and his thin face and staring eyes depict his probable poor mental state.
Poise and achieving an aesthetic sense.
What features produce poise and beauty in an image?
“calm and under control”  “self-assuredness or composure.” balance, quiet calm without  fuss or negative emotion (composure)
Portrait of Dorothea Meyer, née Kannengiesser. Black and coloured chalks on white-primed paper, lead point and scored lines on the contours, 39.5 × 28.1 cm,
What gives this sitter poise? The soft line and hints of tone, the face devoid of line with emotion shown only in the eyes which are slightly downcast relaxed  but searching and in the mouth equally relaxed. There is only a hint of the facial features and only a small amount of line in its representation, but the artist has given the sitter peace and dignity….she knows more than she is prepaared to reveal? Similalry Gwen John’s self portrait has poise and hidden knowledge. I think it is a feminine attribute.
Born in the Rennaissance, when artists began to put names to their works and the rich individuals of the merchant classes sought to have their faces recorded for each other and for posterity.
I thought the line drawings in ink were the best self portrait ventures, the dots and spots provoked by Goya was not good. I liked the energetic pencil lines provoked by looking at Giacometti. I much prefer the drawings using little shading in line than those in which I have block shaded as they give more atmosphere to the image.
Many of the self portraits do look like me although comments such as “that’s scarry” -which referred to the image through the mirror ( based on the drawing by John Bratby in the OCA handbook) and the comments that I had “over accentuated both my lines and facial features of ageing and of sadness ” were made by relatives, who know I can look good and happy.
I found converting the sketches to produce an image from memory exceptionally difficult -I need more information when I make sketches.
My preliminary drawings were not adequate but on the whole , I just jumped in and made the image in the large sketch book rather than depending on preliminary drawings….I found my concentration waxes if I draw the same image over and over and am quite well trained to concentrate quite closely.