I’m catching up on a lot of art reading. During my painting and drawing hiatus, several months of Artist magazine piled up near my easel. I’m currently reading the March 2019 issue which is all about self-portraits.
One article focuses on “Eye to I“, an exhibit currently open at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. This exhibit presents “a century of American ‘selfies'”, self-portraits by various artists from 1900 through the present.
I found this quote from Andy Warhol amusing:
“When I did my self-portrait, I left all the pimples out because you always should…always omit the blemishes; they’re not part of the good picture you want.”
I suppose most artists do want good pictures of themselves. The article explains that a self-portrait “provides the opportunity to present a self to the public that can be carefully edited, crafted, and generally remodeled to achieve the desired effect.” In other words, artists can put their best face forward when they do a self-portrait.
At least experienced artists can do this. I can’t. I’m still learning how to paint, still trying to figure out how to go about it all, and still playing around with colors and styles and brushstrokes. So, when it comes to doing a self-portrait, it’s a case of what you see is what you get, and here in all my glory is who I am as an artist:
The article continues with a note that “there are, of course, self-portraits that are genuinely soul-searching efforts to seek out the truth.”
I’m placing this — my second self-portrait — in that category. While I’m not searching my soul, I am revealing a simple truth about myself.
This is who I am as an artist. This self-portrait reflects my level of skill at this time. It captures a likeness, and it even shows my famously messy hair.
Unlike the first quick self-portrait I did a few days ago, this was done from a photo in which I wasn’t wearing my glasses. That made things a lot easier when it came to painting.
I think the painting shows a few things about who I am as an artist. For the most part, I’m pleased with the skin tones, and thank goodness I do look human! Obviously I’m no great artist, but I have some understanding of portraiture. Certainly I could have taken a little more time on the facial features, but that’s not what this was all about. Like my first self-portrait, this was done as a quick practice, another quick little “I dare you to try it,” sort of exercise inspired by the article in Artist magazine.
I’m sure that as I progress with my painting skills, I will do more self-portraits, and no doubt I will paint other faces, too. I’m not good at it, but I like the challenge.
For now, though, this is who I am as an artist, and I’m happy with who I am.