Part 4: Project 6: Exercise 3 – Portrait from memory or the imagination


For this exercise, you’ll use your imagination and the skills you’ve learned to draw someone you’ve seen momentarily – or not at all. Perhaps someone you’ve seen on the bus or in a shop? Or you might create a portrait of a fictional character based on a description in a book.

This exercise should prompt the question, ‘What is a portrait?’ Should it show something more about the person than mere physical characteristics and, if so, what? How difficult is it to create a portrait of someone from a chance meeting or completely from the imagination? Make notes in your learning log.

Part 4 Project 6 Exercise 3 - course notes image
Zak Smith, Most Accurate Self-portrait to Date, 2004 (acrylic and ink on plastic coloured paper) (Dexter, 2005, p.302)
Part 4 Project 6 Exercise 3 - imagination-portrait
Part 4 Project 6 Exercise 3 – imagination-portrait

Meet my version of Harry Hole the Norwegian detective who is the main character in the Jo Nesbo series of books.

Harry is a bit on the edge, sometime alcoholic, sometimes brutal, but (usually) always super effective and with a predilection for Doc Martin boots.

One thing not accurate in my image is that the Boiler Room is actually in the basement of Oslo police HQ, not, as I have it, on an upper floor looking out over, well Oslo police HQ.

Drawn on 40x50cm 250gsm oil painting paper in oil pastel.

I have been re-reading the Jo Nesbo books again and this may, or may not, be what Harry looks like, but in the books he likes to dress casual and loud and has a particular taste in footwear. I imagine him with a full, though slightly receding, head of spiky blond hair as it fits his image in my mind. The link with the Boiler Room is that this is where his cramped office is located – divorced from the upper echelons on the floors above, tolerated, ignored if possible, but usually called upon when things go pear-shape. The Boiler Room is also where some who have worked there with Harry end up being killed on the job. That’s the back-story of Harry Hole in a nutshell. Have I captured the essence of it in this drawing? Only he knows!

The portrait is much more than the figure and features, it’s also about the attitude, the story, the psychology, the mood of the sitter, amongst other things. The same can be said for the drawer or painter – what are they bringing to the dance?

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
6 January 2016