Exercise: Self portrait


I get the feeling my mother is looking at me. Self portrait – acrylic on paper, 29 x 38 cm

For someone who doesn’t  like having their photograph taken this was never going to be an easy exercise. I have drawn self portraits before but I still find scrutinising my own visage an uncomfortable experience. It’s strange, I can draw faces,  but I find painting them, particularly as a self portrait, extremely challenging.

Is your self portrait a good likeness? How do you know? 

Sitting back and looking at this self portrait on my blog I feel that I am looking at my mother! Because I still feel around 30 in my head it is a bit of a shock to look at this middle age woman. There is definitely a resemblance to my mother so I must have captured something. I will seek some other views when opportunities arise.

Which aspects of the face were the hardest to tackle?

The angle and distance between the eyes was  difficult, particularly because the slightest variation in viewpoint makes a big difference (also to the amount of the left hand cheek that can be seen. The positioning, size and relationship between eyes, nose and mouth doesn’t feel quite right…

I also found the skin tones difficult… in my first effort (abandoned) I was trying to use too  many different tones and got muddled. I am find it better to keep things simple. In this case I used a dark, middle, light and pink tone and stuck to them so that I did not get overwhelmed with colour mixing.

What technical and practical problems did you experience and how did you overcome them/
Frankly I found everything difficult in this exercise (as discussed above) and I don’t really believe I overcame the issues. The issues are really about my need to practice..

Some prep / earlier work


Drawing with ink A4. Well it is quite startling having to look at yourself or so long!


Drawing with ink A4 – I chose to work with this composition/angle. Choosing acidic colours was easier than trying to match skin tone. It was probably a mistake to draw my teeth!

self-portrait interim

This earlier A4 acrylic attempt was looking promising at this stage (and youthful!) but I was working late at night and tired and overworked and ruined it. When will I learn?



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