Part 3, Portrait and Figure Research point 1


For this I was to choose 5 or 6 artists who whom painted self-portraits and try to cover a broad time span and different painting techniques’. I was then to look at the portraits and make notes covering aspects of how do they portray themselves as the artist or? Is there a purpose to the self-portrait? What impression are they trying to convey? What impression is portrayed? Then if possible compare their portrait with one of the sitter painted by another artist.



This is a beautiful self-portrait in Silver Point showing a 13-year-old boy. He was said to be a precocious boy and this shows through in this self-portrait. He looks very self-assured a serious individual and gives me the impression this is what he was trying to portray. There is a touch of arrogance about him.


durer self portrat




Leonardo da Vinci portrait Man in Red Chalk I love this drawing not a painting, but drawing is the basis of good painting and I feel he is the master. I don’t know the purpose of it the picture and some experts argue it isn’t he, but if it is he has portrayed a wise elderly man with status who looks to be deep in thought. His flowing locks are almost biblical. Maybe he was trying to depict his wisdom. The painting by Raphael of Plato was said to be based on a likeness of Leonardo da Vinci and I must agree there are similarities in appearance and portrayal and I can understand why Raphael used the likeness to show a man of wisdom and philosophy.


Leonardo da Vinci Self Portrait Raphael’s Portrait of Plato

The watercolour self-portrait by Mary Cassatt depicts the painter, she painted women in the many rolls they played within her time. I think the purpose of this painting is to show women at work, and that is how it appears to me. She shows a strong woman who enjoys the work she does. There is a confidence in her stance and she seems to be sending the message, you can do what you put your mind to. The second portrait of Cassatt I have chosen is one by Degas they were supposed to be friends for many years painting together. This painting shows a woman deep in thought holding some pictures and was supposed to be painted in the way Degas saw her, demanding, curious and elegant. I think it shows her as a strong and intelligent woman, and yes there is an elegance about her.


Self Portrait Cassatt portrait by Degas

L S LOWRY 1936


My appreciation of Lowrys work has grown since starting the course with OCA so I couldn’t write about self-portraits without a mention of this talented man. What did he want to show of himself in his portrait, he saw himself as a lonely man and yes to me this is how the picture looks. A soulful man just one of the many in the crowd. His flat cap and coat depicting an everyday sort of person. He could be a local worker in the nearby mill. I would say he must of seen himself this way and was a man who didn’t let his position in life take him too far away from his beginnings. Olwyn Bowey shows a slightly different man, she painted the sketch in two sittings and I think she has portrayed a more interesting figure, the sense of humour she saw when painting him shines through in the near smile he has. She also shows a more distinguished man you would say had some standing but not without Grace. I think although this is impressionistic she has captured what I believe to be the spirit of Lowry. It is said he dared the artist to brighten up the picture which is why there is a splash of red. Something I have noticed in his depiction of the grimy mills of the North, he has a splash of colour lifting the viewers spirits from the depth of despair within the mood of his subject. I live near these streets and the greyness on a wet day is complete and can lower ones spirits, colour is needed to heighten ones mood and let the viewer see there is still something to be enjoyed no matter how bleak life can be.


Self Portrait Portrait of Lowry by Olwyn Bowey



A surrealist painter I find his self-portrait amusing, he depicts himself with a soft face almost like a mask supported by crutches and a slice of bacon supposed to be a symbol of the breakfast he ate. Painted not as a painter but his features are unmistakable the eye brows and moustache are very prominent characteristics of the artist. Not sure of his purpose in painting this but it does remind me of his melting clocks and has a theatrical look about it. Equally entertaining is the doubly reversible portrait by Richard Meric. This is painted in the paranoia-critical method developed by Dali and shows a picture within a picture when viewed from various angles. It was drawn out of respect for the artist and has that theatrical look Dali had about him.


SELF PORTRAIT “Doubly reversible portrait of Salvador Dali”

Galler, T., 1964-65. Olwyn Bowey Portrait Sketch of L.S. Lowry. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 22nd March 2018].

Gallery, N. P., unknown. The Portraits-Mary Cassatt Self-Portrait. [Online]
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[Accessed 2018 Mar 2018].

Kaleidoscope, A., 2015-2018. [Online]
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[Accessed 20 March 2018].

Kwatnoski, E., 2014. The Best of Friends, the Best of Collaborators—Degas/Cassatt at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 2018 March 2018].

Sparavigna, A. C., 2004. An image processing of a Raphael’s portrait of Leonardo -Dipartimento di Fisica, Politecnico di Torino. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 16th March 2018].

Strasnick, S., 2014. Degas and Cassatt: The Untold Story of Their Artistic Friendship. [Online]
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[Accessed 21st Mar 2018].

Unknown, 2011. Leonardo Da Vinci Self Portrait. [Online]
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[Accessed 16th March 2018].

Available at:
[Accessed 20 MARCH 2018].

Wade, D., 2018. A rare L.S. Lowry self-portrait exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1976. [Online]
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[Accessed 22 March 2018]., A., 2008. Salvador Dali, Doubly Reversible Portrait. [Online]
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[Accessed 2018 March 2018].



Part3 Portrait and figure Tonal Figure Study

tonal figure for oca


For this exercise I was to concentrate on conveying form by exploring tonal values. I was to set up my models pose with a light source casting clear shadows and highlights. It was thought a restricted palette would be a good idea.

I chose 4  Ivory black, Titanium White, Burnt and Raw Sienna.

Above is a sample of sketches I combined them for the Linear and Tonal study in between sittings my model had her hair cut so some sketches have long others short hair. This painting sketch was done quite quickly and not perfect but I am getting short on time and am worried about finishing the course. One of the most irritating points is there should be further dark paint above the knee however the exercise was about exploring tonal values not being deadly accurate. I enjoy doing limited tonal sketches and have a great fondness for the sketches drawn by the old Masters one of my favourites is Rubens copy of Leonardo’s Battle of Anghiari. It looks such a tangle of horses the contours and proximity of the animals look as if they have been calved out of stone.

I must say not all the sketches were successful as can be seen by the child like sketch above. I went wrong and continued to do so though the sketch, I have found my accuracy of my life drawing is far more accurate if I do a line drawing first. Ok I am not on the same page as Rubens my form is not as robust but the tone is accurate enough to show shape and light.

One thing I liked was I gave texture to the jeans by dry brushing over the top of previous paintwork.  Watercolour paper was first covered in Neutral Grey this gave a good mid tone to work from, the figure was then painted in quickly and then worked with a slower brush in order to smoothly marry the paint tones together. The last application was the texture on the jeans which as mention I thought went well. The background was achieved by some very quick brushwork, again ending with dry brushwork in order to give form and interest.

In the past I have always carefully painted every brushstroke to get a good likeness of my subject, but I am finding minimal brushwork can achieve such texture, movement and likeness I think the minimal background pushes forward the subject giving the painting interest. My style is beginning to come through when I paint and I like doing the mix of two styles in the one painting.

Again this painting was quiet small so in the future I will try to make my work larger. I was also off centre, so need to position my figure better when starting the painting and I also forgot to sketch the painting in paint or watercolour pencil and used Graphite pencil by mistake.







Part 3, Observing the human figure, Exercise Linear figure study

line drawing134


For this exercise I had to sketch the outlines of my figure. First mix up a loose fluid mix of a neutral mid-tone to sketch the outline of my figure and other key outlines. Not to get to involved with detail drawing with the brush. Once the outlines are done look at any negative shapes I can exploit.

I‘m not very good at drawing accurately with paint but I took my time and tried to be as accurate as possible. To begin with I started by sketching my model several times with pencil this was to get the feel of the shapes and most suitable poses.. I find certain angles easier than others and have a tendency once I go wrong to have to start again as I cant seem to stop compounding my problem.

Painting with acrylics has been a great learning curve so I am grateful for all the exercises as they give me a better knowledge of how to use them. One thing I have learnt is I cant draw accurately in paint when the picture is small. It wasn’t until I started the painting I realised I should have gone A3 but decided for this one I would leave it A4.

To be honest once in awhile things go better than expected and I feel happy with this picture, proportions are not perfect and the negative shapes although interesting, are little unbalanced, with too much background on the foot side of the picture. It shows you can never do enough preliminary drawings.

Part 3, Portrait and Figure Drawing the human figure

Sample of sketches made



I didn’t have a model for this so used an online resource for my sketching.  I had to work quite quickly and look at the shapes measuring out the length using the head as around a 7th of the whole person.  My model was to be drawn from various angles.  I chose different models to draw and also feet and hands I am really not good at drawing people, so I did a number of sketches. I also looked at ways of getting the persons proportions with greater accuracy. For this I not only used heads but lines marking the half way point and the head and the feet, then each section.  I definitely need more practice drawing people, however I can see an improvement from drawing one. My figures show a greater flow within the shapes and I am getting the sizes much better. I also tried drawing figures 8 head high to see what the difference is and find somewhere between the two looks best.


Assignment 2, Assessment Criteria points

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness design and composition skills.

At last I am beginning to feel like I am nearly up to speed and not playing catch up. Technically I am getting better and I am learning to visually check the shapes of my subject and the negative space more accurately. Composition wise I think I have managed better. In the past I have drawn a picture and then cut the support to fit, now I am managing to fit my artwork to the actual support without a need for adjustment.

Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

I was pleased with the outcome of Assignment 2, it’s not perfect as my line was not straight in places and although I am learning to have a smoother transition with the Acrylic, it is still not as good as it could be. Maybe the content could have been more complicated, but I am always fighting time so try to keep things within remit but not complicated. I enjoy writing my blog as it helps the learning process, this time I don’t think I gave as much detail about my paint application as I could have, so will make sure I do better next time. I communicate my ideas but agree with my tutor that I need to put more on paper. I have a tendency with Still Life to spend a lot of time visually setting up my subject, looking at tone and shadow but not always trying this out on paper as much as I should, although this time I have done better  but could probably have done more.

Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

My creativity and experimentation is growing now I am getting used to the media, and my personal voice is now beginning to take shape. I had a discussion with my earlier Tutor and I have an internal argument with myself if at least part my work isn’t realistic, I like the blend of realism and impressionism and feel comfortable in blending the two, so we decided this may be the way for me to go. I really enjoyed this Assignment as I was able to experiment with style and application. Ok I am still reserved with my attempts but that is my character and this will become easier as I move through the course.


Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and , at second and third level, critical reviews and essays.

I enjoy context reflection research etc.  Research is something I love but have a running battle because it takes up so much time and I always feel I need a lot more knowledge of my researched subject than is asked for.


Assignment 2




For this Assignment I had to demonstrate my understanding of colour, tone, composition and development of my technique in my chosen medium.

I was to set up a still life or develop an earlier sketch I had made. I was to work on A3 or above.

I wanted to paint a picture that said something, had meaning, and after researching paintings for Part 2, Research 4, I was enchanted by Johannes Vermeer The Love Letter, and the lovely family scene of David Wilkie. The hidden and not so hidden meanings within some paintings intrigue me and I would love to research this further and plan to get some books on the interpretation of paintings.

Limited time to do exercises doesn’t allow a complexed painting, but rather than work on a previous sketch I decided to paint something that had some meaning. It took a while to sort a composition and I really would have liked to add my walking boots, but felt it made the painting to disjointed. In the end, I went with a simplified version. This hopefully shows the viewer that my bag is packed, well almost and I am ready for a spot of Plein Air Painting and Sketching.

To start with I made several pencil and paint sketches of my subject playing around with the set up. I love paintings with limited colour, but wanted to add a splash to the picture, I don’t think it would have said I am going painting without some.  I placed some items with a touch of colour running through the painting andwas pleased in the end with the set up.  I had wanted to paint the picture as a slightly long square, but it would not have been A3 so I played with some lines on a painted sketch in my sketchbook and proceeded on the A3.

colour sketchesunivarious sketchesuni

Sample of Sketches


To begin with I roughly painted the watercolour paper with Gesso then sketched out the scene then strengthened the lines by painting them in and giving the picture a first wash of colour.




I decided to work the walls and top in a more abstract manner trying to make the impression of detail rather than the detail itself, not as flat as Giorgio Morandi but suggestive. I love his little pots which remain his focus and I wanted the same for my composition.  I wanted the eye to be able to read the painting and the items to take centre court. For the walls I added some texture with sand mixed in Acrylic paint, this had to be added with a palette knife. I liked this as it gave a rustic look making the painting have interest in a seemingly uninteresting negative space. The light also alters as you walk around the painting giving a different shade to areas of sand and paint. The sand was added on the third layer of painting then painted over again before complete. A small amount of blue, red and yellow were added to the back and foreground to bring the colour through the picture for unification. I feel it was very subtle and I could have got away with more than I used.

I like the artwork of a contemporary artists called Lindsey Kustusch her work sits between precision and abstract which I am interested in trying to do. I also like the texture practiced by Constable and many others which I feel adds another dimension to a picture. Overall, I’m pleased with my painting and feels it shows progression, placement of tone gives depth to my subject and I think the negative space is balanced. At last my use of acrylic has improved and I feel I am beginning to find a style that I am comfortable with, but still lack an artistic flow to my work. I would like a way to marry my precision with impressionistic part of the painting in a manner that flows from one to the other. I hope this is something that will develop as I continue my journey through the course. There is still the problem of a smooth tonal transition of paint, it has improved using a dry brush to blend adjoining colours, which are worked together whilst wet. Acrylic drys fast so this means working small areas at a time work best.

Altogether I feel there is a lot of room for improvement as mentioned above this was almost a eureka moment with the use of Acrylic paint and hopefully with beginning to use the paint better I will now be able to experiment a little more with my application.


bag uni
Photograph of Set Up


Colours used were:

Ivory Black, Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red, Light Blue Permanent, Ultramarine Blue, Raw Umber,


Part 2, Project drawing and painting interiors. Simple perspective in interior studies.


For this exercise, I was to focus on creating an illusion of space, because drawing interior spaces is a good way to understand perspective.  Notice how the straight lines of walls, floors, table, shelves, doorways and windows could continue until they converge at the imaginary vanishing point on the horizon.

I was to keep it simple, draw lines that define and describe my interior with a drawing medium then use paint and a fine brush to apply the outline. I had to try to use a degree of accuracy. My colours were to be muted or limited.


Keeping it simple wasn’t easy as I am in the middle of having my kitchen done and the house looks like a burglar has been in, turned it over and decided nothing was worth taking. The only clear area was the stairs and for some reason I decided to draw them by sitting on the top step. Stupid as this called for three-point perspective and getting two point accurate was hard enough. I had no light and had to rest the drawing pad on my knees to try and draw. I used my eye to begin with to get my perspective accurate and used a pencil to draw leading lines. This didn’t help the accuracy of my picture you can see from the drawing the lines were a little bowed. I did tidy up a little using a ruler.

door drawing 18012018


After the drawing, I then decided to go straight onto the Exercise and used an A3 piece of watercolour paper. To begin with I drew out the perspective in pencil, looking at the finished piece I can see my distance was too long. In trying to keep the drawing as simple as possible I used some artistic licence and didn’t put in a wall that went off at right angles to the left. It would have been too dark and heavy for the picture.  From my photograph, you can see there is not the distance between me and the wall over the stairs, nor is the photograph accurate, one the camera used flash and altered the shadows and the distance is distorted, the camera made the view of the staircase look more compact foreshortening the distance. The photograph was also taken in a position more akin to the first drawing, my position was a little different for the painting. The correct distance was more accurate in my first sketch, however with the sketch/painting the perspective was more accurate.




phot stairs


After sketching out the scene in pencil I then set about painting the outlines of my sketch in watercolour paint. I did this quickly in a mix of Vandyke Brown and Paynes Grey. These with Cadmium Yellow and Cadmium Red Hue were the colours used to paint the washes on the picture.  I didn’t go to the trouble of painting in the stonework as it was only meant to be washes of tone. However, I did draw/paint in a few wall stones to highlight perspective. For this exercise, I left many but not all perspective lines on the picture. Some were removed to simplify the scene for the viewer.

The thing that troubled me most was a surprise, because it was the door at the bottom of the stairs, I had absolutely no idea how to angle it and decided to draw it using the negative shapes, they appear the same on the picture as in reality. It worked, but I could have been more careful with the application. Although this is far from a finished piece I feel I learnt a lot and have huge admiration for the painters like Vermeer and the angles produced in the paintings I have recently researched.

I also learnt how carefully the painters must have set up their subjects making sure angles don’t look odd when painted. The above scene leaves me wanting to put in a line on the right to balance the right side and remove the lintel above the door as it makes the whole picture look unbalanced.

I do feel this was a really useful exercise in learning to use perspective and enjoyed the challenge and as ever analysing my work really makes me see where I am going wrong.