Torn Paper Self Portrait: a Value Study

In this lesson you will be “painting” your portrait using torn paper that you have first painted in a range (or scale) of grays. To do this you must first break down your black and white photograph into shapes of gray, then determine which gray painted value applies to each shape. As you place your torn paper you should be very conscious of edges of shapes, remembering that the edge of one shape determines the edge of another shape.

1. You will get six sheets of 9” x 6” paper. Paint one sheet white and one sheet black with acrylic paint.
2. Mix four grays that make even “jumps” from your white sheet to your black sheet and paint four corresponding sheets with those grays.
3. Choose your still life to “translate” to paper values and be sure to have an extra photocopy of it.
4. With a pencil, trace your value shapes on your photocopied portrait and assign each value a letter or number. Hang on to this sheet for reference.
5. Make a “sandwich” in this order: acetate, 8.5” x 11” photo, cardboard (to keep it stiff) and tape along the edges (a small piece will do)
6. Choose a value to begin with and tear (don’t cut!!) that value paper into pieces to overlap (it is important to overlap the paper pieces so it will peel off the acetate at the end) and fit into that space. Use tacky glue to adhere the papers to the acetate. As you cover the acetate sheet it will become harder to see the photo and shapes underneath, so you may wish to begin with the more detailed areas. You will always have your traced image to refer to and you can carefully slip out your photo for reference if you are desperate.
7. If you make a mistake, just glue the appropriate value paper on top. The rough white line of the paper adds interest, so no need to try to eliminate that.
8. When done with the gluing, coat the entire sheet with modge podge.
9. After it dries, your can either peel off your image from the acetate or trim and mount it onto a clean sheet of tagboard or paper.