Assignment 4 – A portrait combining line and tone

On Oct. 6th, I went to Parish Council to start off my portrait attempt.

A couple of quick sketches to warm up.

I have prepared a coloured A3 sketchbook. So I chose a blue paper with a charcoal pencil for today’s final work.

This is the work I have done in 1.5 hours before I left the class.

When I got home, I used another hour with black and white ink to create it more 3D feeling.


Before I left class, I showed her this drawing. She said she more prefer her smiley face. Well, this is her when she is concentrating on her artwork. I have drawn this face as very serious with staring eyes.


During the work, I did look at some artists’ works to inspire me.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin. At this stage for me, Repin is one of the most artists I am learning now. His works are realism and show the right perspective, proportion, and structure. Also, his works are illuminated and have subtle tone etc.

Adolph Menzel. Menzel left many drawing and sketching works. His figure’s sketching especially inspired me.


For the figure study by using line and tone. I didn’t use the time to think about the materials. I suddenly loved a couple of papers then put them together as background. But it seems I didn’t give myself a lot of opportunities to use different mediums to draw on them.

After the pictures I have made I can honestly say that I couldn’t make any subtle lines and tones on them. The things I can do are to make clear proportion, perspective and gesture. Also, I can let the figures appear to stand out from the flat paper.

For the portrait drawing, I used most of the pose that my model was looking down towards the ground. I need to use some more poses to help me improve my skills and make more attempts on portraits with models in different poses.


Assignment 4 – Figure study using tone

I want to keep this attempt part of the same series as the last one. So before I started, I have made another A1 paper with a colourful collage but I didn’t use any receipts this time, instead of I got 3 pieces of newspaper.

I tried some quick sketches on my small sketchbook. My aim is to find out the gesture of the model.

I used HB pencil to draft the outline but the lines are not clear so then I  changed to 6B, then I was still not happy with the outline. At last, I used charcoal for the outlines drawing.

My original idea is to use blue ink, blue marker pen and blue bio. But this colourful collage paper is dark, the mark is not standing out. So, at last, I used charcoal to chase the outline. Then I am feeling the charcoal is more comfortable for me to finish it.

At this stage, the foot facing to me is the same size of the face. I need to change it to the correct perspective which is foreshortening.

Compare to the foot facing to me, the hand is a little bit bigger than it should be. Then I corrected it a bit.



It is a very rough drawing.

Then I got some questions for myself:

  1.  Is it finished?
  2.  Can I make it more subtle?
  3. Does the collage for the colourful paper work better than the white paper?
  4.  What else material should I can choose on this base of background?
  5. Does the collage look alright? Is it aesthetic feeling?
  6. Any more work for the shadows of background and sofa?

The answer that I will refer back after a few days to think about.

I used the whole afternoon and night to finish this work. I think I got enough time for the practice. It does look like a rough drawing but I can’t think of anywhere I can improve the detail on it. I think I got the right gesture for this model. The perspective looks correct.



Assignment 4 – Figure study using line

For this assignment, I am going to draw 2 figures and 1 portrait.

1. Figure study using line (A1) – Seated model in an upright chair.

I have been to the Millennium Gallary for a life drawing class for this line drawing.

This is my first time I went to a life drawing lesson here. The tutor was very helpful and correct me before I started. I attempted to use an easel to put a large board and paper on.  However, the easel was at 90-degree angle to my view of the model. So the first attempt I forgot about it after drawing a couple of lines on an A1 paper. Then the tutor tried to adjust the easel for me meanwhile I was using my small sketchbooks.

4 minutes drawing by conte stick by A4 sketchbook.

5 minutes drawing by blue uni-ball pen on A4 sketchbook.

4 minutes drawing by uni-ball pen on A4 sketchbook.

This one really fails on the drawing of the head.

8 minutes drawing by uni-ball pen on A4 sketchbook.

The back is pressing on the chair is not with correct lines. The chin is not right.

4 minutes drawing by conte stick on A2 pink paper.

5 minutes drawing by conte stick on A3 sketchbook.

8 minutes drawing by charcoal pencil on A3 sketchbook.

8 minutes drawing by charcoal pencil on A3 sketchbook.

15 minutes drawing by charcoal on A1 grey paper.

In this lesson, the longest drawing is 15 minutes. In the brief, it says to allow two hours for each drawing. Then when I got home, I have used the website of Croquis Cafe to finish my last line attempt.

I have made a collage with colourful papers then used charcoal to draw on it. But for the receipt area, I can’t make clear marks with charcoal. At last, I used the marker pen to connect through the white receipt area.

I think the scrubbing lines match with the collage. I need to improve the lines’ accuracy. At the moment, I am happy with the face, neck, and the arms. ( Perhaps the arms are a little bit shorter than they should be.) The top torso is not perfect but I think it is all right. Just the tummy, bottom, and legs are the areas I really need to improve. The problem was should I add the dividing line to compare the light and dark areas, also to give them 3D feeling? I think I need to draw lines to let the cylinders swell out for 3D feeling but there are the lines on the calf that do not look natural. This drawing cost me more than 2hours but I can’t change anything now. Perhaps the arms are a little bit shorter than they should be.  So further attempt will do for me.

Portrait from memory or the imagination(Project The head)

Use my imagination and my skill to draw someone I’ve seen momentarily.

I haven’t been to Parish Council for two weeks but there is Indian girl who normally sits opposite of me that I can try to recall her face from my mind for this exercise.

Attempt 1. For a quick sketch.

I just tried to create a 3D spheroid for her head, then 3 cylinders that one for her torso and two for arms.

It is a little bit likes her but maybe looks younger than her.

Attempt 2.

To be honest, this feature’s character doesn’t really like her. But the hairstyle and right lower jaw are looking right. Anyway, this face I must have seen somewhere but I can’t remember at the moment.


Research point – Artists’ self-portraits

In this lesson, I am going to learn about some artists’ self-portraits like well-known ones from Rembrandt, Van Gogh and others.

Why the artists do self-portraits?

There is a thing that the modern people added a new word to the dictionary which is “Selfie”. People do selfies that they want to show their features like they love themselves or to show their outstanding features. Maybe reasons are from primary narcissism.

The artists started drawing/painting self-portraits a long time ago. As artists, they are more skilfully and thoughtful. Whether the artists are being narcissistic or doing it as a form emotional catharsis I can only speculate. I am going to study their expression today.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669)

Rembrandt has two outstanding of contributions which are Self-portrait and chiaroscuro. Rembrandt created approaching one hundred self-portraits. This is one of them done in 1659 and I got from Wikipedia.

Through his work, Rembrandt used dark brown on the background and he is wearing a dark coat. He had drawn himself sideways then his solemn face is to the audience. We can only see his face including his silver hair with strong illuminating (This light area is about one in eighth or one in a tenth of total space). His hands and his shoulders are shown with the faint light of the gloom. He used chiaroscuro to put up the main aim which is his serious face. Giving a strong sense of mystery.

Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890)

Van Gogh is another artist with a substantial contribution to the self-portraits’ areas.

As always I admire Van Gogh’s Colour performance and his strokes. Either his colours or his strokes are all done with vivid impressions. This work I found out from Wikipedia.

Through this work, we can see this picture is just after he cut off his ear because the gauze bandage is wrapped around his head. There is dead calm in his face. This is true to himself and he expresses himself staring. He used the background with a lot of yellow, some red lines, and a blue door which are intense primary colours. His green coat is flowing with melodic strokes. 

Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954)

Kahlo also created plenty of self-portraits in her life. I have read her story that she was unlucky in life. This work “The Two Fridas” conveys much affection.

Through this work, Kahlo has drawn two Fridas on one canvas. These two figures are different dressing and in different situations, but they are holding hands, sharing a bench in front of a stormy sky. She painted this canvas during the time just after she was divorced from her husband. The left figure is the inconsolable Frida because of the failed marriage but the right one is happy with life with her husband and she is holding her husband’s profile.

Look at her other self-portraits, I can also see her unlucky life experience just like drama on the canvas.

How did Frida convey her life and the demonstration on the canvas?  There aren’t smiles, tears, or sadness on any face (impassivity face). Then I can see some elements like in this one: one hand is cutting off the artery which is connected to the heart; another hand is holding the profile which is also connected to the heart. This shows the contradiction of her life.

On the material, it also suggests us learn the artist Tracey Emin‘s self-portrait.

Compare to the artists above. It seems Tracey likes to show her facial expression on her works.

Image result for tracey emin self portrait

This is a quite controversial topic which I read about from the forum which is about her work., However, I think she is using different ways or elements of expression in her composition. Whichever right or not, the forms of art are many and varied so I would say her work is a distinctive style.


Your own head(Project The head)

Look at yourself in a mirror and quickly draw several five-minute studies of your head, neck, and shoulder.

Quickly draw several five-minute studies of your head.

I don’t know why this one somewhere just like one of my grandmas’ features. Then I am moving on to an A3 paper.

Charcoal on A3 paper


After a few minutes break when I finished this self-portrait with charcoal. I am happy with the result it is like me and what I am excepted. The proportions for my nose to give more of a 3D feeling. The mouth is not the perfect but it shows my character on it.

For the second self-portrait, I want to put emotion in my work. I am going to try collage with drawing.

First, I used scissors to cut my figure(photocopy) to several parts. Then put on the carpet to build up again. I was drawing a project(my personal work) before that was broken up but I didn’t get the effect that I want so I am going give it a go on this exercise.

I print it out as a tester, then draw tearing eyes on it.

At last, I stick these pieces on an A3 paper as I want them like glass shards. Then tear off the edges of the paper. 

My final piece

It is my first time done my self-portrait. I honestly to say I didn’t draw the last one in a subtle way. I only was taking the anxiety from my mind to scramble it, but it does show my situation.

Research point – The face

Look at contemporary as well as historic artists who work on the face in different ways.

Renaissance has brought a revolution in the artist area. So during this period there produced many artists who used the sciences to make art more advanced. They used a Realism approach to depict peoples faces. 

Leonardo da Vinci (15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519)

The Mona Lisa is a prestigious portrait masterpiece that most of the people know. The lady Mona Lisa was sitting elegantly with a subtle smile.

This article is 500 years ago, the original paintings were colorful and lively. For protecting it, the surface is coated with too much varnish. After hundreds of years, the light oil has turned dark brown, like the color we see now. As the light and dark tones on the Mona Lisa’s face, the dark shadows are looming, putting a veil on her eyes and lips. Then her smile is mainly embodied in the eye and mouth. Leonardo Da Vinci, who take these parts painted together, there is no clear boundary, so just can have an elusive “mysterious smile”.

Francisco Goya (30 March 1746 – 16 April 1828)

Goya is one of the great portraitists of modern times. He is often referred to as both the last of the old masters and the first of the moderns. Goya’s strange and changeable style, from the early baroque style to the later works of similar expressionism, he has always changed his life, although he never established his own establishment, he has a great influence on the realist painting, the romantic painting and the impressionism of the later generations.

This image depicts a young milkmaid with a scarf holding back her hair and a shawl on her shoulders. From this angle, the bottom-to-top perspective shows the light from behind her(a bit right). So down the shawl and under the scarf are dark areas. Goya used many black paintings and the darker color schemes brought the out the more tragic scene.


Graham Little

Untitled (Reflections), 2014 Gouache on paper

I admire Little’s style on his work. Especially the work of Reflections which is a woman looking into the mirror and her whole face and a hand have been reflected on one side of the mirror and another angle of the side face and a hand reflected on another mirror. This image involved a complex repeat and angle perspective relative but it is an exquisite layout. You can see 3 versions of her face 2 of which are in the mirror.

It has very simple colours and solaces around this woman with pajamas. She may be on the phone and that may explain some expression on her face. This work also includes narrative and portrait elements.

Elizabeth Joy Peyton

Look at the more fluid blocking in the tone from Peyton’s work.

Her strokes are really fascinating. In this image, she used foreshortening effect on the leg which is wearing blue trousers. It seems she only used a couple of letters “V” with fluid colours for the trousers. Then purple colour to draw the outlines of the shirt but these lines are consecutive and sequential and not any surplus on there. She describes a serious countenance on this man’s face shown by the marks around his eyes.

Another work of Peyton’s.

For the next exercise, I am going to do my own head. What will these works inspire me? I really like how she drew the hair in the work of Chloe. In this simple work, the light hits on her hair and the shadows on her face. She has a pair of gazing eyes. One line is used to depict the collar. I am probably charmed by the image of colours in this work and the expression of her eyes.

Facial features(Project The head)

These last 3 weeks I have concentrated on drawing one of the friends in Parish council. I did practice his character and others before. But for this exercise, I have collected last 3 pieces that I am happy with.

The first week, I got this one I have happy with it.

Charcoal on A3 paper

The second week, I got the one I liked.

Black ink on A3 paper
Charcoal on A3 paper

Then the third week, I have got this one.

Before this, there is an attempt but I didn’t like it just folded and put in the sketchbook.

Everyone in the class said it is him so I am happy with the outcome.

I think the second one it the best. The last one I lost control for drawing his mouth.

Well, these ones above have been taken home. I got the elements of his face before the whole features but I didn’t like it so didn’t bother to spray them to keep.

For the ear, if I can shade the top auricle and let it stand out of the head will be much better. For the mouth, the first and second attempts were more realistic than the third.

Groups of figures(Project The moving figure)

I was watching outside from a building to a bus stop in Chester. This is a shopping street and many people carry their shopping in their arms.

Watching children at rock climbing.

I got a chance to visite York railway museum. This is the view when I am at the entrance of the workshop.

Charcoal and watercolour on A2 paper

I was enjoying doing the moving figures because it is very useful exercise. Even some bits and figures are not perfect but these experiments gave me some exciting effects that I would like to practice more in my further sketchbook.