Stretching Myself

It’s been a while since I did a self-portrait – April, if I remember rightly, in pastels. If you’re interested, my series of 7 pastel self-portraits (the good, the bad, and definitely the ugly, see day 2!) start here. Today it once again felt like a self-portrait day; I had the time and the inclination. Self-portraits are always really difficult, I think. There’s the whole business of sitting in front of a mirror, contemplating one’s flaws, and trying not to change position while attempting to get it down on paper. If, in the end, it actually looks like a credible person, I think you’ve done ok. And so much the better if it actually ends up looking something like you!

Self portrait watercolourThis one is a bit of a mixed bag. I think it looks sort of like me, although with all the fine wrinkles and bags airbrushed out. My excuse is that the portrait is quite small (9x6ins) and there wasn’t room for a lot of fine detail…also, I didn’t put my glasses on to look! I painted the face first, then the hair, and then added the jumper and cardigan after a pause for consideration and a deep breath (for fear of ruining it). Adding the strong colour meant I had to go back in and deepen the shades in the hair, which helped with the depth around the face somewhat, although the skin is still lacking sufficient deep tones.

Things I like: the blue of my jumper, and the way it bleeds out; my left eye, where the light is reflected; the light on the septum.

Things I’d change: more shadow tones on the face (if only I could decide what colour they should be!) as I look a bit over-exposed; the neck painting – too lumpy; the chin, which looks misshapen.

However, all things considered, my first ‘life’ watercolour portrait didn’t go so badly. I haven’t shown it to anyone who knows me, so I don’t have a third party view on whether it’s a ‘likeness’. I’m guessing that there are bits that look like me, and bits that don’t. I think I can live with that.

16 thoughts on “Stretching Myself

      • Nope. Too scared to even try it. Although those video tutorials from Stan Miller made it look easy. But pros make everything look easy! I don’t think I’m that good with shading in WC yet. Shading is so key, and you’ve clearly got it down! πŸ™‚

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      • Well, thanks, but I’m learning as always. I must check out the tutorials you recommend when I get a moment. Personally, I think you just ought to dive right in (but then I always say that!). I’m sure you’d have fun!

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      • Ha ha, you made me smile! For my two penn’orth, I think that key to the self portrait is to get to know your own face and its dimensions really well. The best way of achieving that is – self-portraits! I learned so much by doing the pastel self portraits that the experience has transitioned to watercolour reasonably well. I think that using pastels for those first portraits was good for me as I’m very familiar with drawing (rather than painting) and so I was only trying one very difficult thing at a time! Maybe that could be a good approach for you? And as you said, you’ve already started with one in coloured pencils…I bet with just a few more and some really close observation you’d soon have learned enough to have a bash in paint. You could even try a portrait from a photo of yourself which, although not the same as drawing from life, does reduce even further the number of variables you have to take into consideration. Whatever works! πŸ™‚

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  1. I went back and looked at the “7 days”…I liked the ups and downs and think it culminated in a lovely image. But this one is even better. You’ve stopped looking for flaws, and I think are more relaxed about the whole process. The coloring is fresh and clean too.

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    • Thank you! It’s really encouraging to hear someone else’s take on the progress. I believe you are right, that I am a bit more relaxed about it now. Maybe it also shows a little in yesterday’s pose, where I don’t look quite so cross! πŸ™‚

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