I’ve painted self portraits fairly regularly for the past 10 years or so. It’s a great exercise on a few fronts. For one, its nice to paint a head that will hold exactly how you want it for as long as you want to paint it. It’s not easy to spontaneously find someone to sit for 5-6 hours while you paint them.
Its also interesting to try to look at and convey your face as objectively as possible. We all have this somewhat distorted self image of ourselves. To try to see past that and instead focus in on conveying shape/edge/value relationships takes practice, But its helpful in getting better likenesses of other people too.
I like doing self portraits all prima without underdrawing. It’s a perfect subject to practice drawing with a brush as its as complex as you want to make it but its not too committal. I try to light myself with the same light as my support and practice mixing flesh tones by literally holding the paint up to my face. I try to paint with deliberate marks and as little blending as possible using mostly natural bristle egberts and rounds to paint thickly. Above all else, I try to have fun and experiment in ways I might not have the balls to do on a painting with more riding on it.
I went through and pulled a few self portraits from over the years that I thought I’d share, and also sat down and recorded a little time-lapse of one too.
This is the first one that really clicked for me. This was around 2005. We’d just started MB and everything was fresh and new. I look like a kid.
This was around 2007-2008? Getting thick with that paint! Not the best likeness but remember feeling like I’d made some breakthroughs on modeling form.
2008. Just liked this one because it was done on a piece of junk wood and ontop of a failed self portrait.
This was 2009. Painted during a beard-off we had at work.
2010. Won the beard off. Was around this time I overheard some construction workers cracking jokes about how I looked like Jesus while walking to work one morning.
2010 Decided to do something about that biblical look.. If you grow your hair out its 100% necessary to cut a sweet mullet before you shave it all off. And paint it.
2012 beard’s back!
2014 Set up two mirrors for this one. Painted it with leftover paint from an another self portrait but ended up liking this one better.
Painted this one in 2014 as well. Put in a few sittings on this.
Early 2015. This was the first one I painted after we moved up to Washington.
Here is a photo and a timelapse and of its current state. Might work back into this one and refine some things.