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Final Assignment – Portrait in Colour

Hello there. I’ve finished! Can you believe it?! Only a year later than planned (gulp) but my Drawing 1 course is complete. Considering the physical obstacles it feels a big achievement. I’m so glad I stuck with it through everything.

For my final assignment, a portrait, I wanted to create a piece that demonstrated something of the style I have developed. Something relatively striking and strong, showing how I’ve learnt to use colour in my drawings. I also decided to do a self-portrait. Partly out of my difficulty in getting a model to sit, especially in the numerous little, short periods I have to work in, but also because it seemed a fitting way to end this course. The last two years have been SUCH a big learning curve for me, both in terms of coming to terms with physical restrictions and health issues, and in terms of developing my drawing skill. It’s been a real journey of personal growth, so a picture of myself, especially one with some poise and strength felt affirming.

Beginning sketches helped to establish some sense of framing and pose and identify main areas of shadow…

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Once I got a sense of how I wanted it to look I started work sketching out the outline on a huge piece of thick grey/brown card (A1). I wanted a smooth, robust surface that would allow me to use a variety of media. Compressed charcoal in greys allowed me to create a tonal background – this had worked well in previous studies when I wanted the focus and atmosphere to be centred on the figure itself. I then started to build up areas of tone on the skin, using pastel pink, charcoal and white chalk to give a texture and depth to the complexion. To build up the more solid areas of colour on the hair, lips and clothes I first used water-soluble ink-sticks that I blended with water to give a strong base. I then worked on top with pastel to add texture and a sense of drape and fall. Fine detail added with a graphite pencil and I was finished.

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I feel I managed to make a strong piece with a style that is distinctive to my work and that used colour far more confidently than I had previously. The mixed media worked well and helped to make sure use of pastel wasn’t too soft or wishy-washy. I did find bolder mark-making difficult in colour and if anything is lacking from the picture it is that – more energetic lines, perhaps. I manage that well in sketching but I just didn’t crack introducing colour in a similar style. This is something I hope to be able to explore more as I move into paint – introducing more texture into my work, perhaps, and more energy.

And so I’m done! Thank you for following me through this first part of my artistic journey. It’s all change for me at home again now as I adapt to changes in medication, finances create new work pressures and new custody arrangements mean I shall be spending much more time wrangling my wonderful little boy. I am very determined to keep going with my art practise though, even if it’s at a plodding, ‘little engine that could’ pace and am really excited about looking into my next course and further development. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, huh? :)


  1. Susan Mann

    Incredible, you are so talented and have over come so much. You are a true inspiration x

  2. Wow, that is fantastic, so much work goes into it. I am so glad you have something to do for yourself.

  3. Absolutely fabulous. You did so well to complete and you should be incredibly proud. You’re so talented

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