Week 17: Timed Self Portraits

Hello everyone!

Apologies for the delay in uploading Week 17 – I was quite unwell the past week so was not particularly focused – that’s my bad. The portraits are here, however and looking very exciting!

So for this week Su set us a traditional challenge piece – drawing self portraits under the timings of 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes and 15 minutes. Pretty self-explanatory but I think the challenge of this piece took us all by surprise!

Let’s take a look at everyone’s pieces –

Maryann’s Piece


Materials: Ink pen

Maryann says “My summer has been surprisingly busy, and I am sorry that I missed our last drawing theme Alter Egos. (I did actually start the drawing, but I wasn’t liking the direction it was heading so it was hard for me to pick back up again. Perhaps I will finish it one day and retroactively add it to the post!

Well, onto my self portraits. I am a huge fan of both self portraiture and limits of control when it comes to drawing, so I really liked this week’s challenge. I decided to draw all four of the portraits on one large piece of paper so that is would be easier to see their progression. I also decided to work only in ink pen so that I wouldn’t end up getting too fussy about making corrections and laboring too much over areas. If you are curious about the grey tonal stuff going on, it is actually a side effect of some tinkering I did on the computer to remove the background of the drawing to focus only on the line work. Doing so ended up leaving these grey patches that I really liked, so there they are.
This wasn’t the first set of four I drew. It is actually the third set, and I was really surprised that all three times I was totally unable to draw my entire face in one minute. I just could not do it! As I drew I kept getting looser and looser, and finally for this set I decided to incorporate blind contour. The top left (1 minute) and top right (2 minutes) were done entirely without looking at the paper, then the bottom left (5 minutes ) was about 75% blind contour. After doing those first three you realize that 15 minutes (bottom right) is really a lot of time, so I spent the first half of that time doing blind contour work and the rest filling in as I liked.
I really enjoyed this challenge because it reminded me of all the self portrait work I did in college (my thesis was all self portraiture), and it reminded me that I really should continue looking at and drawing from the mirror.


Materials: brush pen, water colour pencils, fineliner.
Su says “After much failure to launch after a busy week, I tackled this task with glee after remembering I had water colour pencils I had not yet used.

The 15 min sketch has tonal issues and I would like to practise using the watercolour pencils to improve my technique. Drawing glasses is supremely difficult but I did try to draw them at different angles which resulted in my 1 minute sketch. Some facial features are accidently exaggerated, as such I should probably draw myself more often!
I chose to ignore the hair due to the time limit, keeping it messy and loosely drawn.
I also made sure not to make many vanity corrections, I may have made a few, (omission of a few spots!) But I did make a conscious effort to capture it all!”
(to be uploaded tonight)
Materials: Biro pen
When Su posted this challenge I felt a combination of dread and excitement. I can’t actually recall how long it has been since I have drawn a self portrait – but I remember it being one of my favourite things to do in Art school. Not for vanity reasons – but having yourself as a study is perhaps both the easiest and difficult subject. You can control your pose, you can control the time you sit for and yet the urge to omit flaw, like Su reflected, can be strong.. but it can also be a huge process of accepting yourself, drawing a self-portrait!
I decided to draw with biro, because I remember an old teacher gave me some great advice when I was unable to start drawing once before. He told me to draw in biro, so the urge to keep starting over or erasing errors would have to be faced. I would have to be more controlled and careful with my lines, and either embrace mistakes or adapt to them somehow.
As I have been working in a small, self contained sketchbook (part of my overall ambition in this project is to have a completed book!) I decided to do two portraits – one 15 minute full portrait, and one where I spent 1, 2, and 5 minutes on different sections of the face. That in itself was challenging – but when I came to the 15 minutes it felt like an eternity.
This has rekindled a love in myself for portraiture and traditional drawing. I would like to explore these ideas some more in our future themes – and begin developing them within my style to create something fresh and new.

One thought on “Week 17: Timed Self Portraits

  1. Su! How did you draw yourself in profile for your 1-minute and 2-minute self portraits? Did you still manage to use a mirror somehow?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s