Painting people, learning portraiture 1

Self portrait drawing - focus on lines

I wanted an intense experience so am happy about having home work before the course starts.  The course is the Portraiture Diploma at The Heatherley School of Fine Art, established in 1845, Heatherley’s is one of the few place around that still focuses on portraiture and life painting.

Nothing like jumping in at the deep end, the assignment was to produce a series of self portrait drawings, a challenging task as we often do not see ourselves very objectively.  I usually prefer to draw in a very tonal way, exploring the shape and structure of the image in blocks of tone that both assess the measurements and create an abstract sense of the person.

In the spirit of exploration I have stuck to line drawing.  This seemed fairly natural for the figure, clothes and surroundings but less easy to express the head.  For me the head is a complex physical structure as well as an expressive one, the harshness of relying on lines is a challenge.  The results a bit robotic.

But I like the abstract quality of lines creating spaces that fit together across the image, where face, t-shirt, mirror edge and easel become one, made of the same stuff, part of the same whole.  There is a spiritual quality to that idea which appeals to me.

HeatherlyPatrick Earle