Eighth in the series – a self portrait a day until Christmas.
I did some very careful measuring in this one, which is largely why its a better likeness than the others,a better drawing all round in fact. Careful sighting and measuring appears to be more accurate than the grid,for self portraits anyway. Themeasuring exercise I did on the 10thhas paid off a bit here. Before I startedadding tone this drawing looked pretty much like that one, just even lines.
Yesterday’s drawing hadthe top and the back of the skull chopped off, which pretty much destroyed any likeness. Curiously, Idon’t mind, in fact I like the effect. Today’s drawing was all carefully laid out with a charcoal pencil before starting. I had thehead shape, shoulders, eye, nose and mouth lines and the ears sketched in before I picked up the charcoal stick.
From then on I pretty much forgot measuring, trusting that I already had it somewhere near, and startedblocking in tones, starting with the main shadow covering the right half (as you look at the drawing) of thehead. This drawing never really got into trouble or needed too much correction, I thinkbecause I approached the laying out in such a meticulous way.
It also has less expressive energy than yesterday’s drawing, it has a calmer feel to it. Starting off withmeasuring put me in a pretty calm frame of mind. I was feeling relaxed and unhurried while I was workingon this one, lost track of time, became unaware of the music playing – all pointers to being inright brain mode. A few times I made a mental effort to stop and look again at the whole thing, I think Ishould try to remember to do this more.
It’s interesting how strong the reflected light on the right of the face has come out in this drawing.I know it wasn’t really that light, but I kind of liked it when it was done so I left it. The reflected lightcomes from the paper. In this one, and for most of them I think, I’ve been sitting facing north, facing themirror with the window on my left and the drawing board on the easel on my right. This means the light from thewindow reflects back off the paper onto my face. In a normal portrait drawing (i.e. not a self portrait), youwouldn’t see this.
I wonder if the reflected light makes the forms less pronounced, by weakening the main shadowareas. I can’t think of a way to cut it out though, apart from working on dark paper in pastels. Which I mighttry come to think of it.
I have to admit I’m happy with this drawing, I think it’s probably the best one yet from a portrature pointof view. Scary, because I know how dangerous it can be to let myself think that. Often it means coming back to it thenext day and seeing a completely different drawing, shaking my confidence in my ability to see things properly.
I’m pretty sure this one’s good though. Better than the others anyway.
Posted 12th December 2005
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