Project 4.1 Portrait of a Friend

Rosie is from  Dartmoor in Devon. She grew up doing lots of writing, running and drawing of the moors. Likes knitting and painting landscapes.

When I met her as model at a lifedrawing day she had just finished a degree in Spanish and Latin American. She was about to go  to Los Angeles and planning to emigrate to US – Trump permitting.

Overview and assessment

The portait originated with an oil pastel drawing from a life drawing session. Rosie was not someone I knew well as a friend, but someone I met briefly and found interesting as a person. The thing that struck me most was her eyes and gaze. Having talked to her over lunch, I wanted to make this a vibrant portrait of a young woman about to set out on a new journey. But aware of the challenges, still vulnerable and somewhat anxious underneath about whether she would succeed.

Maybe the portrait also says a lot about myself – looking back at the time when I had just graduated and setting out travelling. And also the mystique of short encounters  with people with similar views who one is unlikely to meet again.

Because of limited time I took some photographs with Rosie’s permission,  and used my drawing time to do a more expressionistic colour portrait in oil pastel. I wanted to focus on her face and shoulders rather than nakedness. With a three quarter gaze to the future rather than a front-facing intimate view. That was partly dictated by the context of the life drawing session with many people and where it is difficult to  get very close up and get details of eye expression. I chose dark blue paper to contrast with lemon yellow and reds, also to emphasise her eyes.


Expressionism: woodcuts and paintings


frida kahlo

Pastel drawing and crops

Photos and crops

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Digital colour experiments and crops



Select an approach, technique and style based on the print portraits you have been looking at. If you can, get someone to sit for you and sketch. If you can’t get a ‘live’ person, second best is to work from a photo. This could be in a newspaper or magazine, or one of your own.
Make several drawings of your subject in your sketchbook exploring different styles and compositions based on your research and theoretical studies. This process will help you find the best idea for your print and will help you decide on the printmaking method you will use.
Warhol screen prints may, for example, be converted into relief print or stencilled monoprint methods. A simple linear lithograph by Matisse could be suggested by a string collagraph.

Once you have made your decisions it is time to create your portrait or figure prints. Take your time and work steadily and carefully. You are aiming to make three versions of your portrait from the process you have chosen maintaining a professional and high standard of technique. These may be all the same but in different colours, as you can get from using a relief block, or three different monoprints based on the same image.

Overview and assessment

Portraits check and log
• What differences and similarities of approach exist when making a printed portrait compared to a painted one?
• Evaluate your portrait making process. Can you identify any parts of the process which could be improved?