Wednesday, 28 December 2011

First trial at my self-portrait

Last month I had a try at my first self-portrait. I have never even done a sketch of myself which probably should be the first step but I went for it anyway. I worked in the studio with a mirror. I didn't do any preliminary drawing on the canvas and went straight with the paint blocking areas in abstract way having fun with the masses and colours, gradually sculpting the face.
Here is the result:

Although I recognise myself here it is possible not everybody will; I'm not sure it totally looks like me, and to be honest it wasn't really my concern as I just wanted to get a feel for it and explore the colours that make the skintone. I quite liked "skipping" the drawing step as it gave me more freedom to paint an "impression" of myself rather than a proper portrait. I think I mainly recognise myself in the eyes:

The portrait is actually cropped bigger than the head and includes my painting smock which I always wear when I paint:

Here is the painting setting which shows an earlier stage of the portrait:

Here is the portrait after the first stage - I look a bit like an alien but kinda of like it!

That's me looking terribly serious and focused:

I first had the palette on the table on my right as usual but it made me move to much so I moved the palette right under the board to be able to remain still and keep the pose:

It was quite an interesting experience and I hope I'll get the chance to do more self-portraits next year.

I take the opportunity here to wish you all a wonderful and Happy New Year 2012!


  1. Great job. You really handled the paint well. I especially like the big shapes of color in the hair. You painted it in masses, kind of the same way a sculptor would sculpt it. I think I would like to see the hint of a smile but I understand why you painted it like you did. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

  2. I love the abstract quality of your self-portrait!

  3. Self portraits are unquestionably one of the most difficult challenges in painting. I think you have done brilliantly. The problem is always that we know our own faces so well that even the slightest inaccuracy looks weird. I did one just before Christmas which I will post in the next couple of days. I noticed you haven't used a cursor on the mirror. If you tape a couple of thin pieces of chord onto the mirror in a cruciform arrangement and then align it with one eye it helps to go back to the same position always. Just getting stuck into the painting I think is the best way, after all, painting is just drawing with colour.

  4. Thanks Douglas, I'm glad you like it. I'll try to smile next time but you do tend to become awfully serious when focusing on painting;)

    Thanks Kathryn for your kind comment. It was my aim indeed to keep it loose and abstract as I find it much more interesting than a detailed and accurate portrait. I can return the compliment to your beautiful abstract landscapes.

    Thanks Ian. I really like your self portrait showing on your profile picture and I'm looking forward to seeing your next ones. Thanks for the tip about the mirror. It'll try that next time.

  5. Wonderful self portrait. Love your application of paint and tones, Brilliant.

  6. Thanks Joan! It's a bit of an unknown field for me and I still have a lot to learn when it comes to portrait and self-portraits so I'm glad my first trial is not in vain! :-)

  7. good job ! On reconnait bien les yeux en effet !