Last night I bit the bullet and tried drawing my first self portrait. Here’s the result.


Here’s the original.


I asked my daughter if she thought this looked like me. She said ‘Nah.’ Guess I better keep my day time job.

Despite the fact that I look like ‘The Joker’ this exercise (applying everything I had learned so far from Betty’s book) was most rewarding. While the self portrait isn’t ‘great’, it was orders of magnitude better than anything I had ever drawn before.

Here are a few observations about drawing.

Eyes and hair are hard

Getting the eyes and hair on a portrait are hard. The eyes are the soul into somebody. Get those wrong, and it just doesn’t look right.

The hair I also find really tricky. If you try drawing every line, you feel overwhelmed. And the left hand side of the brain is always trying to take over and say ‘Just draw a bunch of lines somewhere in the area. That will look like hair’.

And that is exactly what most of us do when drawing. We just draw lines based on what the left hand side of the brain thinks they should look like. Which is why most people struggle initially to draw.

Spacing and proportion are everything

When drawing, especially faces, spacing is everything. You need to get the eyes, ears, nose and everything just right. Betty has a good chapter on this in her book and it helped teach me how to measure, grid, and get the spacing right.

The power of a single line

Lines are all drawings are. But lines are everything. A single line (especially in hair or facial expressions) can convey so much. I had a hard time filling in the hair (in fact I purposefully didn’t because I wasn’t sure yet how to do those thousands of lines without it ruining what I had already drawn).

Still. This was a great fun experience. And one I’ll continue to practice.

Happy drawing!

Other drawing posts in this series:

How Artists Draw the Hard Parts – Negative Spaces
Modified Contour Drawing Exercise
Drawing on the right side of the brain
Three exercises to get you going
Vases and faces
Drawing upside down
Use contour drawing to see things differently
Drawing the human face

Betty’s excellent book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.