Monday, May 6, 2019

When you just want to draw and paint: the Self-Portrait

      The first painting I made in a class as a newly-wed in New Haven a half century ago was a self-portrait in pastel. I haven't worked in soft pastel since then. There was the allure of oil paintings on canvas that didn't need framing and were more permanent. But pastels are fast to put down on a textured board. Years ago I found boxes of Sennelier pastels labeled for figure, landscape, marine and flowers inexpensive at a rummage sale, but never dove into them. I decided it was now time.

        Also, few weeks ago, I just looked out my window and wanted to sketch the tops of trees and houses in the sun.  Since mirrors were all around, I signed the sketch, with a self portrait in pencil. After watching a free art class on the Internet, I indulged myself in ink pens and brushes for that medium. I am eager to do some ink drawings with new pens.

        Whereas some artists LOVE self-portraits and make many, others have no interest. I find it the easiest start because with the self is where the ideas begin."Rembrandt, Reynolds, Courbet and Munich have had full exhibitions dedicated to their self-portraits."* I have led small groups in self-portraiture and love to re-read all my handouts on books, work and play recommendations. I suggest a dive into the fun of a self-portrait in a new media if you just feel like drawing and painting. Of course you can always let loose and go wild!

Note: I don't usually, or ever, think of what I am trying to communicate in a drawing or a self-portrait. But, in the portrait,  the watch must say something about our age.  (click on Narratives and Self-portraits at my website)
*See The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History by James Hall


  1. Perfect timing. Daughter Katy just completed her first ever drawing class. The last assignment was a self-portrait. I'm passing this on to her. Yes, author Katy!

  2. I mailed you my handout "Leaving a Trace"...copied w camera...Maybe readable.

    1. Printed and in the "Katy stack"! But I printed two--I want to do it.

  3. Nice! I do admire your self portraits, all the ones you've done over the years. This one is particularly nice, and I did notice the watch immediately, for reasons I think you know!

  4. DrawingTIME- time must be on your mind. I love the ways you spend your time. Keep it up.😊

  5. Love the portrait, but also the trees and houses. You record a lot of detail with economy of effort. The trees really look like trees look in spring. How about scanning that self-portrait handout and posting here? Keep going, keep going....-Ellen