Sunday, January 18, 2009

Adventures in Self-Portraiture

Saturday morning I decided to take a shot at a self portrait. I've actually done a fair number of these over the years, mainly because I like drawing portraits and, while there's rarely a model around, there is usually a mirror. This is also why my sketch books tend to be full of drawings of my hand.

Here's my first attempt:

This was kind of an experiment with an ink wash that I don't think was totally successful but which was a lot of fun. I think this does actually look like me despite the fact that the eyes are totally misplaced. This is kind of a pathology of mine - an alarming number of my portraits tend to have the eyes just a bit too high. I like to think that this is something I can eventually learn to correct for, but it reared its ugly head again here.

On to the next one:

The more detail-oriented among you will notice that this is not a self-portrait. I did actually draw one in pencil that I worked on long and hard. I'm not sure how long - long enough to listen to a good chunk of Bob Dylan's "Live 1966" and the entirety of the new TV On The Radio album (which everyone should run out and buy right this instant), so probably just under two hours. It was one of those drawings that started out pretty well but had some inaccuracies in it that I didn't really notice. Then I started to develop it some more and these inaccuracies became glaring problems. So I tried to fix them or work around them, but then other things went wrong. Soon the drawing was getting really over-worked and didn't much resemble any human face, let alone my own. Anyone who wants to actually see the fruits of these labors is welcome to come over and dig through my trash.

At that point I was feeling a little frustrated, so I started doodling the toy bull that we keep in our bathroom (every bathroom should have a toy bull). I knocked this out in about 10 minutes and, looking back at it, I think it's a much better drawing than the portrait I labored over for two hours. Sometimes the quick ones end up being the best, although I do wish I had set up the composition so there was room for the hooves.

Finally, I decided to try one more self portrait, this time in pencil:

I'm pretty happy with how this one came out although, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, it doesn't really look like me. Maybe something with the chin? Maybe the nose is too long? At least there aren't any elements that are so freakishly misplaced that it couldn't possibly be the face of a living human being.

So, to sum up, my efforts to draw a self portrait resulted in one ink drawing that has lots of mistakes but was still fun to work on, one failure that had to be thrown away, one pencil drawing that I'm happy with even if it doesn't really look like me, and one bull. If I had to translate these results into a batting average I think I'd be hitting about .225 and worrying about being sent down to the minors, which may be why I always preferred drawing to baseball.

1 comment:

  1. Wow only 10 min. on the bull?
    Most of my drawings take up to around 10 hrs. but I have a very defernt style than you.
    The self portrait is pretty good... even if it doesn't look much like you, I've done a self portrait also but I looked at a photo of my self that my sister look of me...
    I've got it on my blog if you'd like to see it.