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Find Yourself in February

This was our February 2020 course. Our aim was to approach self-portraiture from as many creative angles as possible. It’s all about ‘finding’ your own style rather than having a set idea. We used photography, collage, drawing, painting and inspiration from great artists to help this process. All exercises are posted to our Facebook group

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Get started with five 1 minute self-portrait sketches.
* I've kept mine small enough to fit on a standard piece of paper.
* I used the camera on my phone as a mirror.
* The first sketch, I drew what I saw.
* The second sketch, was a self-portrait without looking at my page.
* The third was a contour drawing without taking my pen off the paper.
* The fourth, I drew only using vertical lines.
* The last, was another sketch where I drew what I saw.



Create a digital pattern with your image. Get creative using filters or whatever takes your fancy. Any program that allows you to copy and paste will do.



A bit of tracing and copying for this exercise. We're looking at the angles that make a portrait.
* I found a picture of myself on my phone.
* I did a quick sketch
* The second I traced, I used standard paper, placed it over the image on my phone then carefully traced it.
* The last sketch I used the photo and the traced image as my reference. I looked closely at the angles.



String drawing of yourself
🧶 Use a reference photo, string/wool and glue
🧶Use the string to draw your self-portrait
🧶I suggest playing around with the string first before you stick it down.
This exercise can be sticky but is satisfyingly restrictive and creative. You know you can’t do an accurate representation so there is a lot of freedom to play around 😊



Copy this painting
This is a self portrait by artist Inna Sklyarevskaya.
* I've chosen this self-portrait because the artist hasn't made herself the whole focus of the painting.
* I worked quickly on half a standard sized pastel paper in oil pastel.
* I focused on general shapes and colours not worrying about making it an exact copy.



Create your own version with you as the subject from exercise 5.
* Use the layout from Sklyarevskaya's self-portrait to create your own version.
* Put your self in the picture.
* Play around with colours.
* I changed some of the features and changed the lampposts into trees



Collage of your whole figure using blocks of colour from a magazine ✂️
This exercise gave me a big confidence boost as I’d been having trouble getting anything I liked from drawing this image. The collage was fun and freeing 💚 I hope you like it too!
• Use a photo of yourself as a reference.
• Look through your magazine to find areas of colour you can use. I like to use pictures as these add detail to your work (I used an image of sand dunes for my arms and the darker foliage became the shadow).
• Look for large shapes to put down first as the background of your collage. No need to go for realistic colours 😁
• Look at the large blocks of colour in your figure and place a couple down.
• At this stage I would suggest taking a photo and comparing it side-by-side with your reference image. Look at both the thumbnail images to see if you are getting the basic proportions right.
• Continue on choosing shapes and comparing with your photo 👍



Watch this short video about the artistic process of Yvette Coppersmith. She won the 2018 Archibald Prize for her self-portrait.




    This is a great exercise for getting the essence of a portrait. Look at your reflection in a TV with it turned off.
    👉 Draw only what you see, if you can't see your eyes, don't draw them
    👉 Use a blunt drawing implement, charcoal or pastel. This avoids detail.


    EXERCISE #10

    Continuous line drawing over paint 🎨
    • I played around with red and yellow paint on canvas paper using a palette knife.
    • When it was dry I used a black sharpie to do a continuous line drawing. I did each one a bit differently.
    • I rotated the paper as I went and kept my pen on the paper.


    EXERCISE #11

    A quick colour sketch from an interesting angle.
    👉 I got Emily to take a photo of me from an odd angle.
    👉 I used acrylic paint to create a quick colour sketch


    EXERCISE #12

    For this exercise I thought I'd share a video on Niki de Saint Phalle. Her work is experimental and honest, putting herself right in there. It made me think about what I want from my art and perhaps I need to put more of myself in my paintings.


    EXERCISE #13

    Draw yourself in the mirror
    👉 Remember to use whiteboard markers not permanent.
    👉 I had fun with this, just scribbled a bit.

    EXERCISE #14

    Have a go at copying this self-portrait by Albin Egger-Lienz (1923). I chose it for its limited palette and expressionist style. There’s always so much to learn from copying great art 👍

    EXERCISE #15

    Freestyle collage
    ✂️ Use a drawing or photo of yourself to incorporate into a collage.
    ✂️ The idea is to have fun with this 😄


    EXERCISE #16

    Cut up a drawing and re arrange it.
    👉 I did a quick pastel drawing using two colours.
    👉 I cut it into strips, then cut pieces again.
    👉 I re arranged them to create a new image.
    👉 I stuck them down on a dark background.


    EXERCISE #17

    For this exercise we are building on a favourite process of mine— drawing with wool or string 🧶
    Phoebe and I made a demo video for the painting part of this exercise 🎬 we’d love it if you could subscribe to our channel while you’re there.
    • Use a drawing or photo of yourself as a reference.
    • Use a long piece of wool or string and a glue stick to create a line drawing. This can be a bit fiddly getting the string to stick as you draw but is well worth it.
    • Once totally dry glue down some paper with text on it for the darker areas— let this dry.
    • Use watered down acrylic paint to wash over the areas. Let this dry.
    • Use a darker acrylic paint (not watered down) and a palette knife or card to wipe over the lines created by the wool/string. This will make them stand out 👍


    EXERCISE #18

    Our final exercise for this month 👍 Draw a self-portrait from memory
    • It’s fun to see how you will have retained a fair bit of information.
    • I did one in pen but felt I over did it so then I did one in charcoal.
    See what you come up with 😁