Exercise: Self-portrait

Research point- artists self portraits.

I spent some time looking at different self portraits by different artists. I tried to pick a range of different styles and techniques.

image Chuck Close.  Chuck Close has used a very individual painting technique to complete this self portrait. His pixalated images are made up of small squares coloured patterns. When you step back from the painting the tones and face come into focus and you see the face. It is a very interesting technique.

image image  Lucian Freud.   One of the reasons behind Freuds self portraits was that he felt that he should experience what he put his sitters through.

image   The Desperate Man by Gustave Courbet

image  Tai-Shan Scheirenberg. This self portrait is very unusual showing two views merged into one. I admire his abstract way of layering the paint to create the contours and tones in the face. I aspire to paint like this although I find it really difficult to do, I have to really concentrate on detaching myself from the figure so that I only paint the actual tones that I see.

image   image  Pablo Picasso.  Here are two very different styles of painting that Picasso has used to produce the self portraits.

image  Ernist Ludwig Kirchner

image  Self portrait in Studio (1903), Andre Derain.  In this painting Derain has painted himself in full swing in the studio. He hasn’t painted his face in any detail, it is more of an impression of his features. I have noticed that he has used a very bright orange and blue on the side cupboard, I find this a bit distracting as it jumps out at you. I think Derain has tried to correct and balance this by using the same colours on the palette. He has used the same technique with the bright highlights on the face and the fruit on the cupboard.

image  Self portrait in front of the easel, (1888), Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh painted over 30 self portraits. He used these as a way of practicing his portrait painting and developing his skills as an artist when he couldn’t afford to pay for a model. He felt that if he could perfect his own portrait them he would be able to perfect the portraits of others.

image  Self portrait with bandaged ear

image  Self portrait with beard, end September (1889)

image   Self portrait, by Scott Niasmith.  I like this technique of using unrealistic colours to pick out the features, in this painting the darker shadows are picked out with dark red and oranges colours.  I also find the composition of this painting very appealing, I think the close up view makes you focus on the expression of the artist.

image   Self portrait by Dan Maynard.  I think this portrait has a very good use of colour, it seems to have a cool side and a warm side made up of bright yellows, green, reds and oranges. These colours help to make the features glow. The artist has very cleverly used contrasting colours of red and green to pick out the shadows, green on the cool bright side and red on the warmer darker side of the face.

image  Self portrait by Jolente Hesse.  This is a very bright colourful portrait. The bright blue of the eyes is a reflection of the blue top being warn by artist. I have also noticed that the yellow colour of the highlights on the face is also mixed the into the terquoise background.  Red is used to pick out areas of the face, which also draws your eye into the painting and helps to move your eye around the facial features.

image  Unknown artist

image   Jacques Louis-David.  In this painting you can see the concentration on Louis-David’s face. He has shown himself as an artist holding his brush and palette but it is not completely oblivious.

image  Self portrait with plumed Beret (1629) Rembrandt

Rembrandt painted over 90 self portraits over his career. He used these portraits as a visual diary of his changing appearance. It was a way of self-examining his own features. Some of the self portraits he painted had different expressions, for example, anger or snarling.

image  Self portrait aged 51

image   Self portrait (1661)

I experimented with som skin colour mixing before I started painting.

image  These mixes came out quite orange and dark. Some of these colours could be used when painting darker skin tones.


image  For these mixes I started of with Cad orange and Naples yellow, then added some ultramarine, cad red, white,

image  This is a much better mix of skin tones.

In this exercise I was asked to produce a self-portrait


image  I started by doing some sketches. I think I have captured a vague likeness especially in the bottom sketch.

image   This is my first attempt of a self portrait in oils. I think that I have painted my face and nose a little too long.

image  This is my second attempt. The shape of the face is better but the cheeks are too big and smiley. I think this makes me look a little older than I am.

There is some likeness in areas to myself. If I could mix the two portraits together I think I would get a better likeness. The eyes in the bottom painting are quite close to my own. I found it really difficult to draw/paint a self portrait. I think it’s because we look at ourselves so often that we are highly critical of what we see or draw.

To get a better likeness I found it easier to take a picture so that I could turn it upside down and paint my face upside down. Using this technique helped me to disconnect with the image and paint what I could see rather than what I thought I knew.  I found that the nose and teeth were particularly difficult to paint. In the first painting I had trouble with the spacing of the eyes, and between the eyes the space is too wide.

I have asked friends and family for their opinions of the portraits and most of them can see a resemblance  more so in the second painting although they do say the face is too chubby and a little too red in the cheeks.

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