3S4 portraiture

self-portrait in sharpie pen and biro.

Aim of the thread on portraiture. To help with observation and the development of characterisation in a figurative setting, I’m attending a 2 day class every month for the coming year. I will record progress and learning here; and while this activity is about skill building primarily, and builds on the life room work and experimental figure work, I will keep an eye on potential integration into the ‘folk horror’ thematic. You’ll find a lot of quick exploratory sketches here, with some more resolved work.


Working in charcoal and pencil, focus structure.

Unit of measuring (ear seems good) and the head as square box seemed good ways of helping with proportions and curves. Hard for me to understand a curve that is receding in perspective.


A few portraits of Moss. Rather randomly, I worked in pencil on a premade gesso ground on (warm) brown heavy paper (sketchbook). Cool white and greys make a good oil to the warm brown; textures also seem to create a good range of differences. The softness and the absence of an ability to rub anything out was a rather interesting outcome. I’m feeling my way around how to link portraiture to Folk Horror in a way that isn’t obvious (ie the untoward resemblance of Schrenk’s Nosteratu in bottom left).

The portraiture and life drawing provide a good forum for exploring mark-making and providing a tangent to the more focused work around the augmented work for the upcoming NSA/launch exhibition (documented and reflected on in 3S6).

01//02/23 Online portrait


Throughout the week a more sustained concentration on portraiture, the aim of which is to see where it goes really. These might give the basis for body of work on figures and folk horror – a kind of portrait of folk horror – but without necessarily resorting to portraits from existing folk horror media.

This set of portraits was to explore mark-making heads without recourse to direct drawing. Using various methods to arrive at that. I have a small sketchbook in which I draw pencil heads from the TV (I don’t pause the TV but build heads across the course of a show – so that the source head isn’t ‘flattened’ and you have to observe the head more closely in the round), however they have tended to be ‘direct drawing’ so in order to get into a looser modality and a more painterly one, I sat in on an online session from Emily Ball (2 hours in the morning for 3 mornings). These are the results. More reflection on what was learned below.

Useful techniques included placing 5 different types of marks and then constructing the head from those, responding closely to what is happening with the paint rather than focusing on drawing features directing. Interesting how when using charcoal/dry media leaving gaps untouched is easier than with paint. The mark-making exercise as warm-up was also creating sheets of marks that could be borrowed from later and create one’s own library of marks. Drawing features indirectly was particularly helpful with this and very much informed that last painting. I’m now seeing a connection between the types of marks and techniques Turner used – indirect painting (glazes etc) but with much more direct and undirected mark making but without drawing with the brush in a direct way. I then took this method with me to the life class yesterday and I think that there were some changes in my approach evident – sparer with the marks and letting the marks speak more for themselves – in short less literal. (see life class 04/02/23, example below). Varying the tools and deciding on what they are to start with all useful ideas for getting this to happen. While seemingly tangential to FH theme, this is all about skill development and creating affordances for the FH-focused work. Also making the work speak more about my own curatorial eye (and hopefully getting a wider audience to help sustain my practice into the future). This work also helps to address the comment from one of the examiners last term that my daring was freer and more life-full than the painting…I SEEK TO CHANGE THIS DONALD 🙂

By tanyakrzywinskablog

After working in the computer industry and spending some years conducting research into cinema and digital media, I became convinced that the innovative qualities of videogames as participatory media required closer academic attention. As such I have spent most of my career championing the inclusion of games within the academy, and arguing for games as an art form, a role I continue as a Professor at Falmouth University. Alongside this, and my scholarly work on the Gothic, I also maintain, in various forms, a visual art practice. This blog comes out of enrolling on the MA Fine Art degree programme at Central Sr Martins. It is mainly a record of my reflections on the work that I have undertaken for the degree. After having written about folk horror in games and cinema as an academic, this blog will focus on folk horror as a focus for my art practice.

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