The things I love
A self-portrait through objects
In Book 1, we discussed portraits and self-portraits. In this chapter you will make “self-portraits”, not by depicting your face, but by drawing objects.
You will need:
A variety of objects that are uniquely special to you
A range of soft pencils (B2-B6)
How can a picture of objects be a self-portrait?
Look at what you have right now in your pocket or your bag, the things that are always in there. Just as the objects in the previous activity (on page 12) told their own stories, the ones in your bag tell a story about you.
Now choose just three of these objects, or objects from home that you could bring to class: objects which you feel say something about you, that are special to you. Discuss with your class the kinds of things you might bring.
Try to think of unusual, very personal things that you identify with.
It may also be a good idea to discuss what not to bring! For example, don’t bring valuable, precious or breakable objects to school. Also avoid objects that are simply a current popular craze – they will be forgotten in a few months, and are common to almost everybody.
When you start, arrange your special things in front of you. You are going to draw these things placed together, a self-portrait in objects.
Pencil is a wonderful medium, as it is relatively cheap and very versatile. It is great for doing observational drawing as it allows you to capture fine detail.
Start to draw, paying careful attention to the details of the different objects and considering how to render their texture using different kinds of marks and lines. By using the pencil in different ways – such as on the side, or the very tip, or even in conjunction with the eraser – find a range of exciting and delicate marks.
Look at your artwork
Put all your drawings up on the wall. Choose a few of them to discuss first.
Have you revealed your personality in some way? Is the drawing in any way a self-portrait – does it portray or tell us something about you, the artist? Talk about this, in relation to your own and some of the other drawings.
Do any drawings show especially close and
Has the pencil been used in different ways? How?
Has the eraser been used as a drawing tool? If so, how?
How have marks been used to capture details?
Are there any drawings that have depicted the objects in unexpected or interesting ways?
Keeping a visual notebook
Keeping a visual notebook
Observation is key to understanding what you are drawing. This is a process that benefits from practice and more practice.
Draw all the time! Draw whatever is in front of you. It doesn’t matter what you draw. Keep on looking and looking: examine the details, the structure, the forms, the textures, the lines that describe outline or shapes of things. This is what will lead to enriched and exciting drawing.
This might also be a good time to start a visual notebook. Think of everything you see as visual information. Get into the habit of carrying a pencil and a small book of blank pages around with you. (You can make the notebook yourself.)
Then, whenever you are sitting quietly – in a bus, on the verandah, in your room – take it out and draw whatever detail has caught your eye: a part of a tree, a shoe on someone else’s foot, a sleeping cat, anything. The important thing is to draw what you see. Keep looking at the object while you are drawing, checking for further visual information.