Carol Diamond | HD08 | Fall 2021

Lizbeth Vargas’ Project 3: Value Portraits; Gordon Parks study and inspiration

Discover : Hand Portraits & Value Scale

Gordon Parks was a photographer and a journalist. He took photographs that spoke volumes. He doesn’t have a high school diploma but without him knowing, his career began once he picked up a camera at the age of 25. He took photos of celebrities, children, families, workers, and upcoming artists. Many photos were of black children, families, and workers, framed to give relationships between items, lighting, and people to tell a story just on one page. Before using a camera Gordon Park asked people thor stories and he would understand and learn more about other people’s lives. I believe Gordon hearing other people’s stories helped him create photos that spoke to a wide audience. He also made films and books once he became more popular. 

His career and artist way of communicating will help me keep an eye out for form, people, lighting, shadows, and objects to tell a story in my illustrations of my animal characters, in Graphic Design class. Using sharp lighting and dark shadows to make the piece dramatic. To have a mom wolf near a pond pups with soft daylight peeking through the branches and leaves from a tree they are under.

Define: Noir – Style Self Portraits

Develop: Media Transformations – Paint and Pixel


In Project 3 I have learned how to paint a posterize self-portrait using grayscale. Using different graphite pencils from 4h to 8b to make a value scale. Also researching film noir and chiaroscuro work help me inspire and create the photos I took. They helped me focus on lighting shadows, harsh lights, and soft lighting. I had to retake my photos from the first time I took the hand and portrait photos because the background wasn’t dark enough or there wasn’t a broad range of light in one of my photos. The hardest photo to take was the dark narrow value range because it was hard to photograph without appearing too dark or too light. The examples from past work helped me recreate my photos. In this project, I also challenge myself by putting on face paint and taking selfies. The painting was a bit of a challenge because it had a 7 value scale which had a lot of detail. I had to use a small brush for fine details and touch-ups. I used a bigger brush for the black background since the portrait was mostly black. The painting process was therapeutically pleasing. 

In this project, I could have finished the painting earlier. I was on time with the process of project three until the painting process. The painting process took a lot of patience and time. I had to make every stroke worth it on the paper to create what I traced and saw in the posterized photo. I also printed the wrong level. I meant to print level 7 when I printed level 6. Luckily, I had other prints and digital access to the level seven photo. I also could’ve checked it was the right posterize level I wanted to print out. Next project I will put my creativity and passion just like I did in this project. I still have to work on completing the final on time.

1 Comment

  1. carol Diamond

    Hi Lizbeth, Well you created a challenge and fulfilled your vision! The painting and both clear and mysterious, detailed and unified, wry and almost humorous, but a little sinister as well! Great control of value and depth.

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