My face is getting wrinkly. It's getting wrinkly, I have eye-bags, and I'm starting to get Old Man Brows™. So when it came to drawing a self portrait for the purposes of applying to Sky Arts' Portrait Artist of the Year 2018, you can probably imagine I approached the task with trepidation.
As an artist, you have the power to create something better than real life. By that I mean the wrinkles don't have to be quite so wrinkly, the eye-bags don't need to be quite so dark, and the brows don't need to be so unruly. But that's not the real me and I wanted to create a true depiction of my visage so I picked a photo where the eyes feature prominently (I ruddy love drawing eyes), there's a certain amount of contrast, plus the opportunity to add some subtle colours here and there.
I decided to use Stabilo's CarbOthello pastel pencils - despite only having created two portraits with them before - in combination with the verdaccio technique and I invested in some fancy-pants Canson Mi-Teintes pastel paper, after seeking out recommendations on Instagram. And so began the process.
As you'll see below, I was a fairly startling greenish-orange for some time, which scared me a little as my natural skin colour is magnolia. Also, at the point where I added a touch of red around the eyes and cheek, I looked a little like a drag queen. Nothing wrong with that but not quite the look I was after. (No, I did not document this stage.)
Overall, the key to working with this technique is to be patient and not skip ahead which I was very tempted to do. I love details and normally I flesh out the eyes completely before moving on to the rest of the face. Here I had to wait. The last couple of steps involve adding the final highlights and finer detail. That was definitely my favourite part of this piece - making it look like me!
Deadline for submissions to the competition is Friday 3 March.
Wish me luck.