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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > Nov-17 > Self-portrait in charcoal and chalk

Self-portrait in charcoal and chalk

Charlie Pickard, student-tutor at the London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA), talks you through the different stages of producing a sight-size self-portrait

When working on a self portrait I set up my mirror facing my easel and position myself between them. This ensures there is no unnecessary

flipping when it is translated from the reflected image onto the drawing. When setting up your subject,

consider your intended compositional design. In order to do this, we must first decide on what the main focal point will be. In this particular image I chose the eye on the right of the subject. To achieve this, I employed a few

compositional tools that helped reenforce this idea. Firstly, I arranged large lines of the image to converge on the eye. Secondly, I tried to keep it as the most resolved area in the image.

I also made the decision to keep the highest contrast areas and sharpest edges within the face shape, in order to pull focus.


The most important thing to consider when beginning a piece of work is the large proportional relationships of the image. A good principle is general first, then specific. Long straight lines will be helpful in keeping you focused on the most important problems to resolve at this stage. A portrait should resemble your model even before any details have been added, and the silhouetted head shape is always the most

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About The Artist

Welcome to our November issue in which our highly talented, experienced artist-tutors challenge you to re-think your approach to complementary colours in watercolour, draw a sight-size self-portrait, capture an autumnal scene in watercolour, dramatise your skies, try graphite techniques, use negative spaces to your advantage, paint a light-filled interior in impressionistic style and master perspective for successful coastal scenes. And that's just for starters! Artist-judge in BBC1's The Big Painting Challenge, Lachlan Goudie, shares his experiences of painting Scotland's shipyards ahead of his forthcoming exhibition, Nick Poullis offers tips on setting up your own gallery, Julie Collins advises on colour choices for yellow, Michele Del Campo test reports Winsor & Newton's Artists' Oil Colours, including his top tips for oils painters, and Peter Burgess takes a practical look at materials for painting and how best to store them. Enjoy another inspirational issue packed with ideas and advice for all artists!