Self-portrait-Part 2

For my second attempt, I used a line drawing with an abstract feeling which is from my dreams.



Another attempt I have chosen a blue background A3 paper.

First, I have done my outline drawing with B6 pencil.


Then I decided to use charcoal and white conte stick to finish the other bits.


The outcome does show what I wanted with the expression. More reflection on it:

  1. The right side of the shoulder is smaller than it should be.
  2. I need to be more careful of the mid-tone.
  3. This pose is reclining to the right side that I need to improve the effectiveness of it.

For my last attempt, I have drawn the outline as the first step as well.

I have used pencil B6 to get the outline of my face shape.

Then I used the colours from a fibre tip pen set to put down the area of the face. At last, I shaded the shadows behind the sofa cushion, let it feeling dark and especially effective.


This is what I am feeling in the life and I did convey the expression from this self-portrait.


Self-portrait – Part 1

For doing my self-portrait, I am going to make a couple of sketches to describe my thoughts about myself.

Through this brainstorming, I would like to use a word to describe my situation which is: unconfident. As part of this situation, I would have a little pessimism in mine mood. I always dream of running around anywhere, from the field, farm, lake and climbing the mountain then I am tired but I couldn’t stop. So I have drawn some figures in which what I like in the running.

So I put the two elements together. But it is a bit like an illustration effect.

Anyway, I give an attempt at my face drawing. This shows what I was like in the morning, the empty thoughts in my mind.

Conte stick on A3 white paper

Then I try to finish it with more colourful tone.


Conte stick on white A3 paper

Then I spray some white dry shampoo on the highlights side. As this is an attempt

As this is an attempt I am trying to draw that I am a woman waking up and there is no hope just with the empty thoughts. The head still reclines on the headboard. Some points I will need to improve my technical that:

  • Perspective, from this view, the jaw to the chin need to be bigger than the head will recline over to the back.
  • The side of the neck, submental triangle I need to make it cylinder effect and more persuasive in the shadow area under the chin and jaw.
  • It is not quite clear the folding on my top.
  • For the outcome, I am happy with the eyes’ feeling.


Sketches for figures

Recently I did some sketches at the High Green art group.

A2 white cartridge paper with 4B and 6B pencil

The bottom of this lady’s nose has the wrong structure and I need to improve the middle tones.

A3 sketchbook with conte sticks

On the back of this lady’s figure, I didn’t draw it clearly from the hips to the legs.

A3 sketchbook with conte sticks

I do need to shade some dark areas.

A3 sketchbook with conte stick
A3 sketchbook with conte stick

I will do more of this kind of practice while a person sits in a chair with different gestures on top of the body. I am interested in this work.

A3 sketchbook with conte stick

I am not comfortable with the drawing of the hand and I need to improve the structure of the human body.

A3 sketchbook with conte stick

I drew his neck with an uncomfortable pose and with untidy hair. It is a cold day when I was doing this work but I drew his top which is looking too big with too many clothes.

A3 sketchbook with conte stick.

Reflection on my portrait work

I have chosen the subject: Using tone and line in a series of portraits and self-portraits with Conte sticks (I may change to some other medium like colour pencils or colourful drawing inks etc.), inspired by the artist Frida Kahlo.

For my final assignment, I would like to experience using some colourful medium, as I haven’t really used a lot of colourful pigments in this course. Through the process, I didn’t really consider exploring the idea of experimental styles outside of the construction.

Drawing a portrait is the most difficult for me because I still don’t know what effect I will be brought out at the end. Because the portrait includes the construction, perspective, emotional expression and character etc. So in this assignment, my aims are put colours on, find out the expression of the facial features.

For the drawing technology, I need to put attention on:

  • Line and mark-making
  • Tone
  • Colour
  • Light/middle/dark tone
  • Chiaroscuro

Facial Features & Expressions:

  • Draw the features with outlines of construction correctly
  • Practice eyes and put much attention on them because this is the area that conveys much of the emotion.
  • Gesture
  • Atmosphere
  • Mood

I know that the concept of “portrait” and “self-portrait” are flexible things and you can experiment with many methods like I have done in the research “what a self-portrait can be?” and gave examples of what artists have done.

How to express the portrait with the way to show more depth is the aim I am going to attempt for this assignment.

  • The features that are personal and distinctive. (Not everyone has same eyes, nose, mouth and ears also the same shape of the face.)
  • The expressions and the thoughts. (The difference persons have separate thoughts and they won’t be the same.)

In Kahlo’s works, she used a few of the elements with the metaphorically way to imply her feeling and thoughts. For example, she uses a few times of monkeys around her face and these monkeys like the situation in her life. There are other examples, Kahlo’s work used some else elements:

  • The Two Fridas (painted in 1939) is a double self-portrait which is included two figures of this artist. Kahlo is holding two items which are a forceps and a portrait. Also, she has drawn vessel and hearts outside of the bodies.
  • Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (painted in 1940). Kahlo used the elements are a thorn necklace, a small black hummingbird( like a pendant), a monkey sits behind her right shoulder(tugging at the thorn necklace, causing Kahlo to bleed), two dragonflies float in mid-air and A black panther over her left shoulder.
  • The Wounded Deer (painted 1946), Kahlo superimposed her face onto a deer which was fatally wounded by a bunch of arrows.

Is The Wounded Deer is a self-portrait? I would say so. As Kahlo has some more works which used the method for her style of symbolism. From her works, she was not painting attempting to conjure a real scene but she did arrange symbolic elements to communicate a feeling or idea.

So what can I do for my assignment five which is about the portraits and self-portraits? What can I change from my real scene? What elements can I add to my works?



What a self-portrait can be?

My last research is of the self-portrait by artists that I have learnt from Rembrandt, van Gogh, Frida Kahlo and Tracey Emin. My tutor wants me to go a bit further with it.

Why do the artists draw self-portraits?

Do they want to know more about themselves? Do they want to show the audience more about themselves?

What do they do in their self-portraits and what do they want to show their audience?

Do they just draw a solemn face, a face and shoulders, half-length portrait, full-length portrait? Where do they draw the self-portrait? In a couch, in a corner of room or in a bath? Who else can be in the image (a pet, a friend or a family)? When do they draw? 0:00 AM to 2:00 AM? Maybe some artists can put up the good skills at this time.

So what a self-portrait can be? I am going to learn some more artists.

Edvard Munch (12 December 1863 – 23 January 1944)

Munch had a miserable life since he was very young, also his father was obsessively religious. He said:” The angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born. I inherited two of mankind’s most frightful enemies—the heritage of consumption and insanity.”

Look at this self-portrait by Munch in 1895. He has drawn his face and neck in Realism. But his eyes are gloomy and dark without light. From the first view, I thought he folded his arms in front of his chest in this lithograph work but there is only a skeleton arm. All the rest of the space is evil and fear black. Will he be swamped by the darkness?

Andrew Wyeth (July 12, 1917 – January 16, 2009)

The Revenant (self-portrait), 1949

In this article Wyeth have drawn himself with most of the body in an interior. It is authentic and persuasive work. The viewport is quite low so the perspective of the wall and the feeling is very effective. Wyeth was wearing a white suit which is colour to match with the pale colour of the wall.  So the lights (The lights come from the underneath of the curtain on the window.) comes from the bottom of the corner also behind of the body. Why Wyeth arrange this? Does he want a special effect?

Norman Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978)

Triple Self-Portrait, 1960

This is a dramatic work from Norman Rockwell that it seems you can see the process with perfusion. There are a few portraits in this article. As you can see his whole back of the body, a colourful head and shoulder in a mirror and a black and white on the drawing board. A couple of quick monochromes on the left of the board. Also, he has drawn his gesture and you may see his movement from it. In addition to this, on his right side of the board, there are in order of the works: Albrecht Dürer‘s self-portrait at 26, Rembrandt “standing” self-portrait in Vienna (1652), one of the works of Picasso and one of the self-portrait by Van Gogh.

Through this completed work, we can see Rockwell is a stickler for neatness and most of the features are real. He has exceptional insight that he didn’t simply depict his own face and also he didn’t only put attention on his half top’s character. He used humor and humility with a pipe in mouth breezily, then looks at the mirror to draw himself. Yet he didn’t actually draw what he has seen.

Pablo Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973)

Picassos is a lucky artist. There are some articles about ” Picasso Made Self-Portraits from Age 15 Until His Death That Show How His Artistic Genius Evolved.” Posted on Jan 10, 2017

Picassos’ style of naturalistic,  expressionism, surrealism to cubism.  He used abstract style thrived at showcasing what he was in this world, painting self-portraits from teenage to a wise older self.


Salvador Dalí (11 May 1904 – 23 January 1989)

Compare to the artists above, even Picasso just used a distorted but fluid line to describe a character. Yet Dali used deformity flayed skin for a face appears to be instead of his character. But he presents his character that with his upturned, antenna-like moustaches. This spectre is supported by several crutches.Though, what is the correlation with a piece of bacon? Why used this pedestal? Why is called soft self-portrait? After I read this article I realised that there are some ants around the eye and mouth also signifying decay or weakness.
What a self-portrait can be? It is a wide-ranging theme.

The personal project

Select one of the previous four assignments as the starting point for your personal project.

The options are:

  • Line, space and form
  • Your immediate environment
  • Outdoors
  • The figure and face

In this part, I have the freedom to pursue some of the things that I am interested in.

I was confident doing my assignment 1, assignment 2 (but not perfect for some interior exercises) and assignment 3 (but a bit like “casting the net” throughout the exercises). For the assignment 4, it is a large aspect so it is never finished.

For outdoors, at this time of the year. I don’t think I will sketch out a lot but I never throw out my sketchbook so that I would like to take it and to draw when I get free time. Maybe from out of the hotel window and on some trips. The landscape is one of the aspects in my future drawing.

So for this assignment, because I am regularly attended the Parish Council art group that will give me some opportunities to get free models so “the figure and face” will be my preferred subject of this assignment.

Self-assessment of assignment 1-4

Assignment 1

Refer back to my cabbage/vegetable still life.



Before I analyse the sphere of cabbage, I should really observe the tiles on the wall because it is confused visually. Then I did a very quick sketch to find out the right perspective.


The tiles haven’t perfect straight lines but they give the impression of being straight.  It is an easy way if I create a 3D background around the still life then it will be beneficial for the objects to stand out with their shapes into space. So why not do it?

The cabbage I have put more attention on the outlines’ chasing and texture then I missed controlling of the tones, so it doesn’t look like a sphere. After I shaded some dark areas and balanced the middle tones. Then took another photos.

It is a little bit better and stands out from the flat paper. My tutor suggests that I pay more attention to the tonal values. So I got the benefit from it now.

For the still life arrangement, I probably could get a better view of the positive and negative spaces. I could leave a gap between the plate and the pomelo then they won’t look so cluttered and heavy on the top of the microwave oven.

I was very pleased that I was very enthusiastic throughout the process of creating this still life and got much encouragement from my tutor. It is not a completely perfect drawing but some parts are liked by my tutor. Like the shadow of the cabbage. So going forward I am going to focus more on the tones than the form.

Assignment 2

This one I paid much attention to the mark making and the form. I am very pleased my tutor gave me lovely feedback. She said: “I like about it is the fact that it is not a standard view, it more exciting than that. You have developed some interesting mark making in order to explore the form. There is both exploration and energy in this work that is good to see.”

My tutor also gave me some suggestions that she wants to see in my work and I will be able to click in further to the image that it can really see the natural lines at work.

The background of this still life, I only gently used the straight line with an entire space not very strong light for the objects. So my tutor said:” you feel that there is certain heaviness to some the subjects, because you left the background sparse, it works fine.”

My tutor said the pineapple and the pumpkin look a bit flat. Then I took my work out then shade these two objects’ darker areas. But one of the mushroom looks a little square not rounded but I have to leave it alone.


My tutor liked my process of this group of still life and she said this shows good working methods. Then I know I need to develop in the future.

Assignment 3

This is a complicated work because it included many aspects.

Firstly the format is Chinese map format but the culture is western where it shows a view from Yorkshire Dales to Whitby via York. I got the affirmation from my tutor that she said it is a great choice. She also encourages me this is such a good insight and one that you can really work with now in the future with your landscape interests.

Then for every aspect throughout the process.

Using rice paper caused me real problems is the drawing process. I couldn’t stop after making a mistake after the erasing the rice paper was getting corrugated and was spreading out the ink and watercolour very fast. The main thing is the thin paper is getting thinner and broken with some holes.

For working through this work. Because there are at least three areas in this illustration. It also includes the connection of two areas. I used photographs when I was drawing this work. Well, my tutor said that the photograph doesn’t help us to understand perspective. That is very true. I was really struggling during depicting the buildings and hills and their contours. So my tutor suggested that I practice on the sketchbook by going somewhere and really scrutinizing the scene in front of me.

When I plan out the draft, I used charcoal to draw on the rice paper but I never think about to use charcoal to get the finished one. Then my tutor suggested me to try this way that she thinks it is will much more atmospheric and charcoal is the best medium so far to demonstrate this concept as a drawing.

The main problem in this work is the perspective of the buildings. Also, allow the buildings to be looser and less restrained. Get them right then I can look through space for a whole landscape.

For the detail of the subjects, I do need divisions between the light and dark areas so the buildings can look natural. I am not sophisticated in this drawing skill yet.

Assignment 4

For the figure and head, I think the best way to help is practice, practice and practice. I have done a lot of sketches but never enough.

Look back my 4 assignments I haven’t got my own style or I didn’t keep the same style that I am confident with it. Assignment 2 and assignment 3, I used subtle mark making, but I used rough stroke by charcoal for assignment 1 and assignment 4. At the moment, I haven’t got feedback from my tutor for the last assignment, so I can only do my self-assessment.

  • I am still quite new to the figure drawing, especially in the life-drawing class for the nude. I can’t draw the right gesture well in 5 minutes. It may be much stress to start with every work.
  • I plan if I can regularly go to the life drawing lesson in Broomhall Centre on Sunday if I am free.
  • I am thinking the proportion of my figure drawing and face.
  • I need to practice some more medium and material into my artwork.

I went to an art exhibition this morning (Oct. 22nd in High Green). There are a couple of art lessons with the tutorial over there. I am still trying to get in their groups.

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.