Part 4 – Project 6 – The Head – Exercise 3 – Portrait from Memory or the Imagination

The idea of creating a portrait from memory or imagination really freaked me out.   I don’t know why and couldn’t think how to start.   So I began by making a couple of quick collages using images from recent colour supplements.   In fact I really rather like the one on the right with the cat ears.   Started to draw from this but not in itself very satisfactory – trying to make it a face instead of what it is.

And then I remembered seeing on the bus a very young mother with a new born baby.   It was a particularly poignant scene because her mother was sitting next to her and the new mother was breastfeeding her baby.  In order to retain her dignity her mother was holding a scarf over the baby whilst her other hand rested on her daughter’s shoulder.   I was really touched by this scene with one generation supporting the next in this very protective but not overwhelming way.

imagination girl on the bus

Anyway with this image in my mind I started to draw and am interested and intrigued by what I have produced.   This does look in some way like a Madonna and child and more surprisingly there are aspects of the face that are reminiscent of the young mother I saw the day before. It is not her, it is not the best drawing (proportionally) but I have captured something of the moment that I witnessed.

head dix style

Otto Dix style head

single figure and head sheile

Egon Shiele style figure

Just added these two drawings in because I like them!



Project 4 – Research – Self-portraits

In my sketchbook I have looked at elf-portraits by many artists from the “early masters” to early 20th century painters in order to try to understand the cultural, visual, and historic context of the work.

Contemporary Artists:- Jenny, Saville, Chuck Close, Lucien Freud, David Hockney, MarleneDumas, Elizabeth Peyton,

David Hockney – it seems like over the decades Hockney has investigated a huge variety of mark making and tonal qualities.   From his early line based drawings through more tonally based paintings and onto rather flat surface images – particularly with his use of the ipad.

Lucien Freud – was always essentially a mark maker whether in drawing or using the paint as mark and.  It almost feels like he hollows/chisels out the paint making very stark lines though the use of tone.

Chuck Close – has developed over time to produce his wonderfully colourful pixilated paintings which upon inspection are more and more complex.    The build up of the contours via the method of intricate filling in of each square/rectangle.  An amazing colourist.

Marlene Dumas – as discussed early she tends to us a rather flat tone throughout her drawings/paintings concentrating on the features as if penetrating the surface of the face.  Line is minimal.

Jenny Saville – Her very complex drawings and patintings often allude to multi-view images with surface layered on surface to create the depth and tones.   Drawing seems to be very traditional in her approach the compositions making them very contemporary in their structure and context.

juggling babies

I don’t know or don’t want to know what the title of this painting is but I call it “Juggling Babies” it is very reminiscent for me of the experience of motherhood – which is far from the idealised Madonna and child. I particularly like how she incorporates the painting with drawing adding to the density and energy of the image.

elizabeth peyton

Elizabeth Peyton describes her faces with flat application of line.  Tones in the main are implied rather than shown. There is a directness about the gaze that she produces from her sitters.



Part 4 – Project 6 – My Head – Exercise 2

Project 6 Exercise 2 - self head 1

I surprised myself with this drawing – only water soluble pencils which I have just discovered. The proportions are fairly accurate and lifelike. A bit generous on my mouth.  Like the way the tones and angles of the face work quite effectively.

Project 6 Exercise 2 head self 2

This second version came from an initial blind face drawing with red chalk and then overworked with charcoal and rubbed back.   Not as much of a likeness in fact more of my younger self but in some ways more penetrating.

detail project 6 exercise 2 self 3

Part of a further drawing using water soluble wax crayons.

Project 6 exercise 2 line drawing oil pastels.

A monoprint from an oil pastel covered paper and worked from the back. Could imagine working on layers on this with different colours and mark making instruments.

Project 6 exercise 2 self overdrawn

I like this in a way because it is me all over.   Getting into something and then loosing it completely.   Forgetting the basics along the way.

drawing 2

Was trying out different surfaces and materials – here inks on a heavy anaglypta paper I found in a local DIY store. I can imagine working further into this with different materials.

food head 1

food head 2

Wracking my brains to come up with different materials I mixed up solutions of different foods an spices for the two images above – chilli powder, turmeric, coffee, redbush tea, green tea and cocoa. Meant to add beetroot but didn’t have any to hand. Something of the first image I like very much – it reminds me a bit of Marlene Dumas.

In the sketchbook I went on to create other images involved in the idea of being packaged…this is not a lost idea but something I may work on in the future in Part 5.

Packaging 1



I believe the first pencil drawing was the most accurate and life like.   Perhaps because I was more accurate and took my time?    However I didn’t vary the angle enough or concentrate on different light sources.

However I have subsequently tried other materials and methods and am beginning to understand how I could become obsessed with capturing ones own image.   I am thinking that I might concentrate on this for the Assignment 5 but with other still life elements – i.e. the doll etc.



Part 4 – Project 6 – The Head – Exercise 1 – Facial Features

Project 6 Exercise 1 Heads

I am beginning to build up a collection of images of the head and features in my anatomy book.   This will be an ongoing process.

eyes etcmouthshead 2heads 2

Research – Heads – Historic & Contemporary

From da Vinci, Raphael and Rubens everything from very accurate use of line to very subtle use of tone.

Matisse, Corot and Degas – line, line and tone, tone.

From Graham Little through Maggie Hambling to Marlene Dumas – the last two my favourites.   I have questions about where drawing stops and painting begins or does it?

The really expressive marks that Hambling takes I find invigorating.  Dumas on the other hand uses different tones and marks in a very penetrating way.   Once again I am caught between the intensity and the simplicity of the images and how powerful both can be.