Self Portrait, Beachcomber

Ink, gouache, china marker, graphite, 3.5″x5.5″.

A self portrait this morning in the little sketchbook, working from a photograph.  It was easy to get lost in the details of the folds and shadows of the jacket.  I had to keep pulling myself back out before getting too fussy about it.  “Indicate, don’t state”.  I can’t remember who told me that or where I read it.

Have you ever wondered why some artists make so many self portraits?  Is it vanity or narcissism?  For some, maybe, but I think generally that is not the case.  I often work from photographs and I would much rather use photographs of people I know than use someone else’s pictures.  Frequently I find myself anxious and self conscious working on pictures of the kids or my wife.  It’s like a mental or emotional block that doesn’t occur when the image is someone I don’t know- or if it’s me.  If proportions get messed up or the likeness is weak, or the subject looks older, fatter, scary, what have you, it doesn’t matter to me ,if it’s me.  But I worry when it’s a close family member.  Another reason for self portraits: if drawing from life, I’m always available for myself.  And there’s no model fee!

I found an interesting article online about self portraiture.  I don’t know who the author is.  The link is HERE.  It was surprising to me that Van Gogh did 22 self portraits in the 2 years before his death.  And curious that Rembrandt did hundreds of sketches of himself and painted over 60 self portraits.  It’s a great little paper anyway, if you’re interested in reading more about artists and their self portraits.

  1. jensine said:

    I love the roughness of it and I think if writers always write about themselves (in different characters) then why shouldn’t you draw you

  2. Reminds me of how self-portraits were always mandatory art school projects, and for some reason, were always the most pressure-filled assignments in illustration. It was always a two pronged approach; getting the media, style, technique, and execution right combined with how uniquely you did or could portray yourself. The best self-portrait I’d ever seen was by some kid in my high school. He was a slacker/stoner/surfer kinda guy. We had to do a self-portrait, and he had done his last-minute in ballpoint pen on a piece of lined notebook paper, which he subsequently folded up and stuffed into his back pocket. When he pulled it out of his back pocket to show everybody, it was the perfect self-portrait. Not only was it actually rendered rather nicely, but the heavily-creased folds of the paper helped the overall portrait to capture him perfectly.

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