Charcoal Eraser Self-Portrait
This is my final project of the year!!!! Over the span of two weeks, I created a self-portrait using charcoal and an eraser. Below, I’ve listed how I did it and pictures of the process and the final piece. Enjoy!
First, I colored charcoal onto a piece of paper, used tissue to pick up the excess, and rubbed it onto the sheet I would be using until it was completely black. I then set up my light, which would allow me to re-create the different shades on my face as I studied myself in the mirror.
In this project, I was not allowed to draw or make lines; everything was shaded/erased using the eraser.
I started with my nose, creating the lightest shade on my face (where the light hit the brightest), and went from there.
Throughout the project, I saw difficulties because each day the natural light (from outside) would be different from the previous visit I made, so the way the light hit my face would change in my portrait. At first, I would go back and make changes to what I’d already done, but I decided that I would just add on to whatever I’d already completed instead of wasting time changing something that would probably be different the next time I came to work on it.
After conquering my nose and mouth, it was time to begin on my eyes (the most challenging of all). Because I took measurements/proportions with string, and squinted one eye to do so, I had serious problems.
When creating my neck, my professor told me that the way my neck is in reality and the way I re-created it was completely different. I made my neck to look like that of a Barbie, when it is actually a “nice, thick neck,” in the words of my professor.
It was then time to work on my hair! Because my hair is curly, I was pretty nervous about how I’d go about making it, especially places where the light hit it. It was fairly easy creating the curly pattern, but adding lighter shades of where I could see light in my reflection was the hardest. After looking at a fellow classmate’s self-portrait, and saw that her hair was perfect, I asked for tips on how I could do mine, but failed :(. I ended up making lines, which is NOT correct. I then rubbed more charcoal to get rid of the mistakes, and used my eraser to lightly add shades. It didn’t come out like my classmate’s, but I tried, and I think it looks better than the lines I’d drawn.
My final piece!!!
I wasn’t too pleased with the outcome of my project at first. I felt that my eyes were too big and that I looked angry (many of my peers also felt this way about their portraits). However, this was my first time ever doing a self-portrait, and though I think it looks a little more like my cousin, I can see some of myself in it, and I’m quite proud! Throughout this project, I learned that I had to stay optimistic about the results. If I went into it with the mind that I would do good, then I had a good turn out, but if I started out saying, “Oh, this is so hard,” I wouldn’t try, which would show at the end of my day’s work.
What I Learned From Art 160 (Visual Thinking)
What I learned from this course overall was that how we perceive things is a major influence on how we think, whether it be in art or real life. During the semester, I was taught to draw or communicate what I saw, rather than what I already knew. Because I allowed myself to block out everything I knew, I was able to form an opinion and thinking deeply on whatever subject I was presented with. Before, if I were to look at something, I would speak only based off of prior knowledge, without taking a second to observe and think. Doing art critiques really helped because as a class, we were able to pull meaning out of each others’ work and discuss how or why we perceived things a certain way, which led to us formulating opinions about the work. What we see has an effect on our thinking because when we interpret something in a particular way, we are overcome with some kind of emotion; we then base our thoughts off of these feelings, which have been influenced by our perception. Visual Thinking has expanded my thought process, and I am happy to have been able to take this course under a wonderful teacher.