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6 good reasons to paint a self-portrait

Updated: Jan 6, 2021

I have made it a part of my art practice to paint self-portraits, but why? Whether you are a figurative artist, professional or amateur I think that it’s a valuable exercise. I even created a video lesson on how to make a simple portrait painting. This is my most recent portrait and below are some of the reasons why I feel painting selfies is worthwhile:

1. It’s free. You don’t need to persuade your model to sit for you, or to pay them. Try taking some photographs of yourself first, or perhaps you have a picture that you like already to work from. You can also work using a mirror.

2. It’s what you know. We have tendency to make all portraits look a bit like ourselves because our own image is familiar. As an art student I tended to make the male life models that I drew look feminine, as did most of my class mates. So this is a big advantage if you are the sitter. You can paint objects or a background that is familiar too and tells the audience something about you.

This portrait I painted about three years ago when I was feeling weight conscious.

3. You can see how your work is developing. When you reflect back on previous portraits they reflect your style and current thinking at the time of creating. This can be a useful tool to show you how you have progressed. It could also document the years if you begin early enough. What a great at gift to your family.

This portrait I created in acrylics in 2019:

4. It’s a challenge. Looking hard at yourself isn’t easy. Seeing yourself on canvas can be a challenge and capturing a part of yourself can be a journey. But I know that when I challenge myself I grow. This challenge helps me to drop my ego, my self-consciousness and really look. This portrait below of me in the clown wig addresses how hard it is to paint yourself, or take yourself seriously!

The self portrait below I created when I was working on my 'Meditations on Now' series during the first lockdown in March 2020. Even though the style is very different, it is painted in acrylics like all the others pictured here.

5. The first painting I ever sold was a self-portrait! Generally speaking I do not sell my self-portraits! When you are creating a piece of work just for you without the possibility of selling, it can free you to explore and try new things.

6. You could gain a commission. If people like your painting they may commission you to create one for them. When I started painting again regularly I painted my family and when people saw those paintings they started commissioning portraits of their families. I then created a website sharing these images and further commissions came.

Would you like to paint a self-portrait? I have created a video lesson on painting a ‘simple portrait’. The portrait lesson takes you through step-by-step painting from a photograph to making a portrait painting in acrylic paints. Once you have completed this lesson you will have a starting point to create your own self-portrait, or perhaps one of your friends or family. You don’t need to have strong drawing skills or previous experience. Plus you can get support from me. Anyone who takes one of my painting classes can join my supportive private Facebook Art Club. Here you can ask questions and gain support from a lovely group. So why don’t you start by buying the video class today? The cost is £12 for the lesson to be emailed to you with support materials. You will need to provide your own acrylic paint, brushes and support (canvas or panel).

If you have any questions do get in touch.


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