Saskia Marks


Class of: 2027

Major: Fashion Design BFA

Medium: Charcoal, Digital, Acrylic

Faculty: Susan Cottle Alberto

Prompt: 'Your Charcoal Self-Portrait drawing is the template for an analysis of the planes of the head and features in Adobe Illustrator. Planes help us construct space and a solid, three dimensional form. You will use 10 values of gray in this first black and white iteration. Anatomical details, features Space and planes with simpler contours using straight lines are the goal. Complicated, hyper-realistic contours should be avoided. For softer transitions, keep the values close together. You may need to make more half tone.The final phase of your mid-term project on the head, is an acrylic painting based on one of your planar head digital color designs. The goal is to mix acrylic color to match the color masses, shifts and planes in one of your digital designs.'

Based on an initial selfie taken, I created this charcoal self-portrait that aims to utilise and experiment with this medium through exploring both extreme light and shadow. I believe I have successfully done so, as well as exploring charcoal’s textural abilities – creating a striking and dominating self-portrait that people subsequently commented reminded them of Lucien Freud’s portraits. In fact, I had set out to purposefully not actively make myself appear as flattering as possible – instead creating raw and emotive portrait, with a rather uncomfortable angle, with the viewer having to strenuously look upwards, with my nostrils being the focal point!

I took a somewhat unique approach to the assignment, deciding to base my colour palette on both my split complementary neutral planar portrait (from my Adobe Illustrator portraits (based on my charcoal portrait)), whilst also incorporating various colour features from my master colour analysis planar portrait. This choice was as a result of there being a fantastic range of colour variations in my more neutral portrait, but then me also wanting to include my striking deep red background from my master portrait.

My thought process and understanding of colour drastically changed during this process. Having barely done any painting before, it was extraordinary to me to realise just how many infinite opportunities there are to create completely unique colours through merely mixing four colours – in my case, red, blue, yellow and white.

Furthermore, this portrait’s colours could even be seen as a representation of my personality. Whilst you have the more subdued colours on the actual face, perhaps reflecting how some might say I have a rather ordinary face, the prominent and vivid red background grabs the viewer’s eye and could reflect my internal personality – daring and bright, and most definitely often hard to forget!