I’ve been keeping busy with self-portrait exercises. These are simple to realize. Just photocopy some of your favourite pictures and follow these exercises.
Main tools that will be needed for all exercises are: paint (I choose acrylic), paint brushes, gloss acrylic medium, an “exacto” knife, scissors, tissue paper, textured surfaces, dry and oil pastels, cotton swabs, coloring pencils, felts, and anything else that can be painted with, coloured, or glued onto your self-portrait.
1. My alien self. Also one of my favourite exercises. I love the result. I actually did this one thinking of a Halloween theme. You can also try transforming yourself into a witch, a ghost, a zombie, or whatever!
2. The left-hand drawing (or right-hand drawing if you’re a lefty). First, you’ll need a mirror so that you can see yourself. You’ll need to draw with the opposite hand that you are used to using. Don’t put in too much detail, just keep it simple. Once finished, use dry pastel to outline your portrait. Finally use gesso or water to smudge the color you have applied.
3. Pointillism portrait. Use a small round brush, cotton swabs or anything that will create small round dots of paint. Fill in your self-portrait. Try using two colors per section to create depth.
4. Written on me. Use markers with thin tips to write on yourself whatever comes to mind. This exercise can go two ways: either you color with the writing (like i have done), or you can just paint yourself and then put some writing wherever you feel like it.
5. If I was a cat. Use some sand paper to lightly sand out an area of the portrait. Use a pencil to draw in new area as desired. Optionally, you can continue by adding a light wash of gesso over the portrait, and then paint over it as I did.
6. Make it textured. Use textures surfaces to draw yourself with colour pencils. Makes for interesting and neat effects.
7. Crumpled. Crumple a photocopy of yourself. Then un-crumple it and use the new texture to create effects. you can do this by using oil pastels and lightly rubbing against the ridges of the crumples. Add washes of different colours to the portrait for more colour.
8. 1930’s movie star. Use glue or a binding acrylic medium (such as gloss acrylic medium) to glue on a white tissue (gift wrap) paper. When dry, use acrylic paint to put emphasis on the facial traits.
9. Ghost picture. Use glue or a binding acrylic medium (such as gloss acrylic medium) to glue on a white tissue (gift wrap) paper. Make sure to apply some medium on top of the tissue paper too. But don’t press too hard when applying, you don’t want it to become transparent. Before it dries out, use your finger to rub against the tissue paper as to create small tears here and there. Once dry, use a glazing medium with a bit of black paint to create a sheer colour. Apply to prominent facial traits.
10. 3D portrait. You’ll need some cardboard for this one. Cut two square or rectangular pieces of the same size. On each side, glue on a photocopy of your portrait, that is a total of 4 portraits. Color, paint, draw or collage your portrait. When ready, cut a slit from the top (middle) to the middle (middle) of one of the cardboards. Do the same but from the bottom up of the second. you should be able to slip each one into the other to create a 3D portrait.
11. Transparencies. Go to your local printing shop and make transparencies of your portrait. Use markers or paint to fill in your portrait.
12. Geometrics. Cut out geometric forms from your portrait. Be creative, then paint in the shapes, add a wash or two of colour, or do whatever you want to.
13. Distorted. Cut your portrait into strips and rearrange them to create a distorted portrait.
14. Negatives. Just like photo negatives, the colors of my portrait have been reversed. I only used black and white to convey a minimalist feeling, but you can use as many colours as you want.