Foundations Self Portrait


Bristol Board, Charcoal, 11″x14″ 2015

As far as intent is concerned, the goal of my self-portrait was to make something that is both light-hearted and fun, while also displaying a fair amount of serious effort so that I could start off this semester on the right foot. For an expression, I decided on a jokey version of fear that represented how I felt in my first few days here at Alfred. I may have wanted to come off as a fun, quirky kind of guy, but really I was too nervous about starting college to give a good first impression.

I loved being able to use angled lines along the left arm and within the wrinkles on my shirt, since to me this implied motion away from the right side of the page. However, this caused an issue with balance, in which the left side of the page began to feel too heavy, while the opposite was too light. In response, I allowed the chair that I was sitting on to appear more prominently on the right, hopefully evening out the composition.

Since deep contrasts in value add visual interest, I tried to give this piece some areas that are darker than I am used to working with. This required that I try out the charcoal pencils for the first time, and they really helped me push my values here. Despite this, the composition still felt empty, and I decided that it was because I wasn’t making any use of the space around my portrait. Remembering how much fun it was to play with moving, angled lines earlier, I then drew a geometric shape in the background that further encouraged the idea that the scene is subtly flowing to the left. I always felt that the sharp, rigid lines of geometric shapes make what is organic in the scene feel increasingly alive.

There are certain aspects of my self-portrait that I felt were messed up, and I’ll do my best to improve upon these shortcomings in the future. Proportion-wise, my torso was drawn a bit too long, and this is an issue that falls upon taking the time to plan out my dimensions at the beginning, before diving into details and value. Furthermore, I want to emphasize textures in the future, since here they were completely neglected.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed working on this self-portrait, and I think it successfully emulates the emotions that I was feeling earlier this week. Thankfully, that fear is now for the most part gone, and I feel comfortable awaiting the coming criticisms that will only make my future work stronger.Self Portrait

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