As the end of the semester approaches, I find that it is best to look back and appreciate how much we have grown in terms of artistic knowledge and skill. One of the best ways to do this as an artist is to redraw or reattempt an old work, to see how far you have come. That’s why my final project for my Figure and Drawing class couldn’t be more perfect as it is a repeat of the first project we completed in this class: a self-portrait. This project allowed us to use many of the skill we have picked up in the class and allowed us to not only to face new challenges, but also give us an opportunity to tackle some old problems as well.
One of the main challenges of this project was to replicate oneself in a way that does not just depict what you look like. It was necessary to show something deeper and more personal within the image other than surface level images. To approach this, I carefully thought about my posing and color choices to help convey more of my personal feelings and emotions. After taking trying out quite a few poses, I finally decided on using the pose seen above as I felt that is showed my struggle with staying outwardly happy at times. This pose, along with how I embraced the natural grays and blacks that came with the charcoal, helps to transfer my internal thoughts more effectively within the piece.
Not only did I fully accept the natural color range of the charcoal, I also wanted to keep the graininess in the shadows. Originally, I wanted to make everything very soft and smooth, with as little texture as possible. But then I realized that by keeping the texture helped play to the theme and mood of the piece. I saw the graininess almost as static which helps reinforce the idea of my struggling to stay positive. It also gives the piece more movement and visual interest than what it would have otherwise.
One of the last big things I took a lot of care in reproducing was the contrast. My original pose and image had high contrast between the shadows and my light source, creating lots of intricate and interesting shadows and blending on my image. This presented a unique challenge and learning experience as I tried to replicate the subtleties of the lights. In the end, I am very pleased with the result and thankful for what I learned from my observations. The contrast also adds a lot to the overall balance of the piece, with the harsh lights of my skin cutting through the extreme darks of my hair and shirt. The white sections also help with the movement in the artwork as all the major white areas lead to or point to my face, pulling the viewer through the piece.
Being able to go back and taking another attempt at an older project has allowed me to see how far I have come thanks to this class. Re-drawing or recreating images to show progress is something I have always done as a way of reflecting on my increase in skills. It allows for a direct comparison and puts things in perspective for those who are unsure how much they have grown. I am thankful for all I have learned in this project and class and will surely miss it as I move into the next semester.