Self Portrait: Tuesday

Workshop Self Portrait in Pastel


Hello everyone!

Today we are going to paint a colour block-in. This is very similar to what you would do in oil painting. We are going to look for the simplified, average colour of your main shapes. So, on average, the cheek is pink-ish, the hair is brown, the jumper is red. Try and get the colour sort-of correct, but do NOT add any variations such as light and shade, saturation etc. Paint just very simple colour blocks.

This should get you a simplified version of your final painting. It is almost an abstract version. But even in a highly simplified version you should be able to see whether the likeness is off or not. So if you see that it is not right, try to adjust the main shapes in order to improve things. Does that cheek need to be wider? Does the chin need to be shorter? Is the nose too long? Is the forehead a wider or a longer shape?  Check all your shapes.

Now check your colour. If you squint at the mirror, you should see a simplified version of yourself. You don’t see that slightly rosy cheek, or that darker shadow under your eye. You just see a dark blob for the eye sockets and a pink shape for the cheeks. Check the SHAPE of those ‘blobs’ and compare with your painting. Then check the COLOUR of those blobs and adjust where necessary.  Your simplified colour block in should correspond with the overall colour scheme of you.


Since we are working on this painting over 5 days and we are using a layering technique it is hugely important to lighten your touch and only just TICKLE the paper. You don’t need lots of colour yet, you don’t need opaque marks yet. We are still just searching for the right shapes, values and simplified colour. None of what you have now will be visible later. You will overpaint everything! So keep it light, keep it ‘just enough’ for you to make out what you are doing, but not so fat and bold that you cannot overpaint it later.

  • Work lightly.
  • Tickle the paper.
  • It does not have to look good yet. This is the underpainting. This is prep work.