Exercise – Self Portrait
This exercise took much longer than expected and the project of looking at faces is something that I feel I will get involved with and in time, it will be an evolving piece of work. So far I have taped various images, drawings, photos, and paintings of my self-portrait to the wall of my studio. Some are drawn over the top of newspaper photos and some are drawings on top of photos of me. The research that I carried out, helped to progress this project because of the work by Isaac Hernandez Blog,
I like the roughness and deconstruction look of the pastels with the photograph showing though and the magazine lettering. The mirroring your image (or the’ mirror phase’ by Jacques Lacan)on someone else was something I wanted to try because the tension of looking at your own face, then drawing that onto a flat piece of paper is hard to concentrate on, as they never look the same because they are not, one is the illustration of the real thing and yourself that you see within the frame of a mirror. The image is there but the sense of myself isn’t. To draw my self-portrait on top of an image of someone else was fun. The form was already there but it made me think how other people’s jaw lines, noses and eyes are different and how just a little line can have a big significance. This was a good exercise due to the fact that I looked much more at the features and the form of the face.
My face after Liam Gallagher isn’t the most attractive image but it is a women’s face drawn on a man’s features, the combination is a visual tension of masculine and femininity facial features, Some might same ; Beauty and power. The Theory of Feminism is something I would like to study some more and I am currently reading ‘VISION AND DIFFERENCE’ BY Griselda POLLOCK (1988 London Routledge.) and her insights have questioned the way I look upon myself and others. “In effect Nochlin reinforces the patriarchal definition of man as the norm of humanity, women as the disadvantage other whose freedom lies in becoming like man.” P 50 (Pollock, 1988)
I am not suggesting that I agree with the above quote but it warrants a question of thought and I’m intolerant towards ignorance.
I like to use pastels because, the hand is closer and more involved with the process of creating, you have to push much harder and you get to feel the paper push back. The oil pastels are gritty and the tip is bold so the outcome isn’t controlled, it creates this medium to be fun and workable. I mean workable in a way that you work at the medium to blend it, layer it and cover up. The process is much harder than painting and I enjoy physical hard work so I think this is why I gain enjoyment from this medium.
Is your self-portrait a good likeness? I Think the shape of the face is a good likeness, my nose is small so I am always tempted to make it larger, A certain amount of discipline is need so not to over work the features. My double chin which is far more noticeable these days is something I can over accentuate along with the lines dropping away from my mouth to my jaw line. To get over this issue of being troubled by my age lines ,I take a photo and print that because the camera isn’t as focused as my eyes.
How do you know? I did ask my children, who are always very honest and my mum. They confirmed my issues I had with the left eye and that side of my face which had dropped away from the right side, but I kept working at it and now feel I can’t go any further.
Which aspects of the face were the hardest to tackle? The eyes; When I look at the painting and then have to look at my face, the direction of the eyes just didn’t look right. I changed the shape and angle of the left check then changed the tonal colours of the face and nose many times before I manage to get the eyelid at the right curvature and juxtaposed with the nose, eyebrow, mouth and earlobe. The skin colour was something I wrestled with, I wanted vivid colours and then I thought that was far too vivid. I painted by dim light because this helps to use intense colour and the lighting is so dim the colour really has to glow to be able to see the contrasts. I thought I was more interested by the bright colour formations on my face than some blended flesh tones. My personality is within all these drawings and paintings, My husband thinks they are ‘mean’ looking, I feel bright and happy on the outside but cautious and pessimistic within.
What technical and practical problems did you experience and how did you overcome them? I was enlarging the image and foreshortening was used for my painters arm. I also wanted a large area to be black as I felt the negative and positive space was more dramatic and the face is very intense so to give it smaller space, it doesn’t over dominate. I took a photo first and drew on this with oil pastel and practised with directional strokes to help depict form. I liked the simplest colour pallet as I don’t have a large range of colours to use but by simplifying this pallet I feel it makes the colours more intense. Looking at me for long periods of time isn’t very rewarding psychologically so I think by using the photo as a way of concentrating on the lines and form and not getting so detailed, it allowed me to distance myself from the self-portrait. The light is coming from the studios glass roof so the white patches of light on the face can be disconcerting, for example; the light under the eye which normally would be perceived as a darker tone than the area above the eyebrow, but because of the angle of the head and the light directly falling down, it hits this area of the face more than the eyebrow. The tilting of the head caused the left side of the face to become droopy. By leaving it for a night and coming back to it with fresh eyes helped to finish this piece.