Self-portraits – Ego trip or educational tool?

For someone who loves creating portraits, I’ve been doing a lot of abstracts recently!


Simple, with portraits you need a model! And I find that daunting! Especially if I’m trying experimental techniques.

©2010 Cathy Read - Discovered - 53 x 43 - Mixed media Collage
©2010 Cathy Read – Discovered – 53 x 43 – Mixed media Collage

I’m aware of the pressure to get it right. It’s a form of performance anxiety.

People… live people, get bored! You need to interact with them to get the pose or expression you want.

That is unless you want bored and uncomfortable. Or bored and dull! It’ll usually show in the eyes!

Working with a commission or friends who are willing to pose is great! But there are only so many times you can ask a friend. The 100th time pushes even the best of friendships.

Likewise, the commissioner dictates what you create, how the work will finish. That won’t stretch you as an artist!

Models need to be paid… the list of reasons goes on and on…

When lacking a model, there are 2 options available to the artist!

The Photograph

Your own, of course! They don’t move! They don’t react!

You can take your time, and if the pose goes on.. you’re only affecting yourself. If you want to spend 3 hours getting the nose right! You can!

The Self portrait.

Sooner or later every artist must do one.

The subject is always available, no model fees! Handy on a budget.

That’s it!

My recent self portrait in the sketchbook 2011 project got me thinking. I owe it to myself to create more self portraits.

Photographs miss characteristics which portraits capture.

Self portraits even more so! You have a unique situation where the subject and artist are the same person. The barrier has been removed.

Self portraits are honest in a way that no other art can be!

There is only the artist’s agenda. What they want the world to see!

Emotions are laid bare. Exposing who the artist is! His self love or loathing.

How that is expressed will depend on the artist!

Some give us a glimpse of his dreams and fantasies! Not so much how he see himself! But how he would like to see himself!

Not all fantasies are cheerful! Not all reflections of reality are accurate, distortion abounds!

How honest the artist is will depend on how secure he is about himself. Rather like Hollywood actors who censor their publicity material. Artists may only share what they want others to see, keeping there most intimate portraits to themselves.

In other words a Self portrait –Does exactly what it says on the tin! Portray a self known to the artist!

Do I want to be that exposed? Do you?

What have you or would you reveal in your portraits? Please share your links! I’d love to see them!

About CathyReadArt

Artist creating abstract art using mixed media. I believe there should be beauty in art, but sometimes it takes an artist to show others what is truly beautiful.
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