Which drawing materials produced the best results and why?
I don’t think I have a definitive answer to this. I used pencil, pastels, ink and bamboo pen and coloured Brusho inks, and a bit of bleach. The results for each were quite different. If I consider which produced the best results, then I would say pencil (a combination of HB with a soft pencil) which I used to draw Charlie Hamilton Jones. Here my pencil sketches have captured more detail and expression – light, shadow, facial lines, hair texture and a bit of a twinkle in the eye. My ink and pastels self portraits lost a lot of this kind of detail, but then they have a different, more illustrative look which has some appeal of its own.
Does your self-portrait look like you? Show it to a couple of friends or family members and note down their comments.
My pencil sketches in my sketchbook and pastel portrait are not particularly flattering but do, in my opinion, look like me.
I showed my self portraits to David my husband and my niece Felicity. Both hesitated to say they were a likeness, they couldn’t get over the intense, concentrated expression that is so typical of a self portrait. Felicity said: “But you are always smiling and I can’t think of you in any other way.” Interestingly, both preferred my rough sketchbook ink drawing/painting to the final self-portrait and thought this the best likeness.
Did you find it easy to convert your sketches into a portrait?
I didn’t really convert my initial self portrait sketches into a portrait because I drew the final again in front of a mirror, but the sketches did help me with observation and understanding of how to draw my own features. This was helpful because I was then able to draw more quickly and accurately.
When drawing the portrait from memory I first did three quite detailed portraits in pencil in my sketchbook and these helped to fix the features in my memory. I also explored different poses and expressions but did not, unfortunately, take the learning from this forward to the final picture.
Were your preliminary drawings adequate?
Yes and no. They were certainly a help in familiarising myself with facial detail and hair, but on reflection I think I could have done more to explore the overall pose itself in order to capture angles and expressions with a bit more vitality and interest.