Project: Self Portrait – Exercise: Portrait from Memory

2 - Portrait of Putin in Charcoal

I was watching I, Putin a Portrait, when I thought I bet the Russian president was one guy I could definitely draw from memory. I have have come across quite a few blonde Russians while I have been here in Thailand and they all seem to have the same features, long sloping noses, prominent cheek bones, chiseled features and wide mouth with thin lips.

I made some quick sketches while I was watching the documentary, I figured playing it through without stopping would give me plenty of practise so most of the small sketches are fleeting moments.

I also made some notes to help me remember the key features of Putin’s face. My long term memory is great but my short term memory is really poor.

1 - Notes and 1st Drawing
1 – Notes and 1st Drawingu

From there I started the portrait from memory starting with the nose and eyes as they were the easiest features to remember. I drew across two pages trying to get the proportions of the head right. When I was satisfied that I had got a likeness with the face I had to decide where is neck started below the chin.

The documentary showed Putin over the last 20+ years and I had produced a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster a drawing made up of images of the Russian president at different ages. I had seen him in a sweater and shirt , camouflaged jacket, shirt and tie and hockey kit.

I decided to put him in a shirt and tie which gave me some idea of how wide his neck would be and how to draw the folds of skin under his chin (turkey neck).

2 - Portrait of Putin in Charcoal
i 2 – Portrait of Putin in Charcoal

From there I did a larger drawing in charcoal on A3 paper, I was hoping to get more of a likeness with this one but it looked less like Putin than the first.

3 - Oil Pastel and Watercolour Wash
3 – Oil Pastel and Watercolour Wash

The next drawing was drawn in oil pastel and again it looked less like the Russian president than the first two, It did however have nice skin tone until I decided to experiment with a watercolour wash. I hadn’t done any washes and I had noticed a lot of other students had been doing washes over other mediums and I had never got round to playing about with them myself so I thought this was a god enough chance as any to see how an ink or watercolour wash looked over another medium.