I Dare You!

I love landscapes, but I also love figure drawing and portraiture. At some point on this artistic journey, I want to do people paintings. I’m fascinated by faces — and by the human body, too. Of course, learning to paint real people will require a lot of practice. I’m not at that point yet.

Still, I enjoyed stepping way out of my comfort zone and painting my colorful Woman with Flowers. Today, I stepped out of my comfort zone to paint a quick selfie, although the final result looks nothing like me. The only actual similarity is that the lady in the self-portrait and I both have blue eyes, and we’re both wearing glasses.

SP 1 7-2019 (2)I was inspired to do this by several things. First, as I mentioned above, was my own interest in and desire to eventually paint portraits and figures. Second was an article I read this morning in an issue of Artist magazine, featuring the Selfie Drawings of Carla Gannis. The issue is all about self-portraits, and I’m going to read it eagerly. My third inspiration came from a recent art club meeting — which I did not attend. The topic for the program was, you guessed it, self-portraits. Members were to bring a recent photo and have a go at drawing or painting themselves. I was so intimidated by the thought I skipped out altogether.

Of course, I made no serious attempt to draw and paint this. It was intended to be a quick and fun little art project, and that’s exactly what it was. I didn’t work from any photos of myself. I just took a very small canvas panel (5 x 7), picked up a piece of charcoal, then stood in front of the mirror and hastily drew an image of what I saw.

Painting my image was interesting, to say the least. I really had no idea where to begin or how to approach the project. I started painting in hair, then worked on mixing a skin tone. The charcoal on the canvas mixed itself right into my paint, but I just shrugged and went on painting. After coloring in my complexion, I added the facial features and my glasses, making no attempt at realism. I just wanted something that resembled a human, and I’m pleased that I accomplished just that.

Many artists have done self-portraits. The idea of doing a self-portrait seems to be all wrapped up in personal identity, showing the world who we are, or, at least, how we see ourselves. Rembrandt, it’s said, actually dressed up in different costumes for many of the self-portraits he painted.

A self-portrait is often seen as a look into the mind or soul of an artist. Painting oneself is a way of depicting our unique perspective or showing a part of our personal narrative.

I guess if I wanted to interpret my self-portrait, I’d say it does reveal a few things about me. I’m casual, I’m comfortable, and I have messy hair.

A self portrait may have psychological implications, cultural biases, and gender or sexual overtones. Or it may just be a quick little art project on a summer morning, a way of playing around with paints and challenging oneself to do something way out of the ordinary.

So, now, I challenge you! Pick up a pencil or grab your paints and do a quick self-portrait. Nothing fancy. Nothing fine. Just a light-hearted look at who you are.

Go ahead. I dare you!






  1. I think it’s great to get out of your comfort zone and try people. Practice makes perfect…but this is really good! My mom recently drew her granddaughter Ella and framed it. It’s dear and done so well. She has tried people before and I think she has gotten better through the years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When I take my time (using graphite or charcoal) I can usually capture a likeness of an individual. Oil painting is entirely different for me, so I’m just having fun when I do people paintings. It’s so far beyond my skill level at this point that I would get really frustrated if I worried too much about likeness, or even getting a sense of realism. Painting whimsical people is much easier. 🙂


  2. That is a dare and a dare I don’t know if I would do again.
    The last time I did one, was many many years ago, when I was still at school. The self portrait was using a spoon. It looked nothing like me. I wasn’t a person who was interested in self-portrait, but laughed to myself my effort.
    I tried doing one later on my own terms at home. This time using a mirror. Again, it looked nothing like me. But I can’t remember on that ocassion if I had any other thoughts, than not really into portraits.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Portraits are challenging, especially self-portraits! Just the thought of painting my own portrait has always been a scary thought. Doing it in a light-hearted way was actually fun even though the results look nothing at all like me. At some point, I plan to use graphite to draw a self-portrait, and maybe later I will do another painting — after my skill level increases. This one was just for fun, and it really was fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve attempted self-portraits, and while they sometimes turn out to be nice studies of the human face, I can’t say any of them have ever actually looked like MY face, in the end. I’ve gotten a little bit better with painting faces lately, though, so it might be time to try it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’ll do my next self-portrait in graphite. I’m much more comfortable drawing faces in that medium. As far as painting goes, I was happy my portrait at least looked human. 🙂


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