self portraits

heather accurso

student work
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student work - self portrait assignment

black and white conte crayon, charcoal on toned charcoal paper

approximately 36 x 28 cm

two of these self portraits were completed at the end of the quarter for fundamentals of drawing (drawing 1, jackie and eric), the others were completed at the end of the life drawing course. in both cases, this was a homework assignment.

drawing one's face is extremely difficult. in order to really see well, students did preparatory blind-contour-line studies, looking in the mirror. this involves placing the pen or pencil on the drawing paper, and only looking at the subject to be drawn - never looking at or adjusting the drawing. the results tend to be exaggerated versions of the students' features.

the ultimate goal with the charcoal studies was to match individual features as closely as possible: from life, looking into a mirror. dramatic lighting was highly encouraged, as strong lights and darks make the volumes of the face more pronounced and dramatic, easier to see. students started the works with line or by erasing into an applied gray ground of charcoal, depending on preference.

they brought the drawings into class while in-progress. peers and i assisted with checking shapes, volumes, their positioning on the face and head, as well as values... often eyes and nostrils were too big, the shape and value of the eyebrows needed adjusting, placement of ears tweaking. for the final piece, students were given the option to adjust the existing drawing or start anew.

Self Protrait Bruce


Self Portrait Carlos


Self Protrait Jackie


Self Protrait Derek


Self Protrait Eric


Self Portrait Lindsey


Self Protrait Blind Contour

blind contour

sometimes, the blind-contour-line studies look more like the students than the first attempts at realistic charcoal studies. the first time around, many people idealize themselves - female students superimpose fuller mouths, bigger eyes, arched eyebrows, male students draw themselves with over-the-top masculine jaws and necks.