Attempting self-portraits

I’m struggling with self-portraits. The root of the problem seems to be that I don’t actually ‘see’ myself – the curve of my eyebrow looks nondescript, my mouth is generic, my eyes seem to shape-shift. Careful pencil drawings haven’t given me results that ring true so I decided to try making loose, quick ink sketches. I thought this might help me find a more intuitive way of seeing and  allow me to capture some inkling of myself. The results:

Maybe in some future years, after I’ve put in more hours, dug deeper, learned to see better, this approach will work, but for now, it still doesn’t bring me any closer to making a self-portrait. And there might be another lesson here, one that has more to do with not always being in the background and half-hidden. Maybe in order to see myself, I have to want to be seen!


  1. Look back them in a week or two, you may think differently. I have no tips to give as I too find self portraits nigh on impossible! There’s a specific nose shape and fuller bottom lip that seems to be coming through in each. I’m also amazed that you have managed the dinal one from memory!

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    • I agree, Morris. But I also feel that the self-portrait is something of a tradition. I’ve seen so many delightful – and not necessarily anatomically correct – self-portraits done by artists at different times in history that I’d like to do one too. It’s something I’m working on slowly …..and yes, even if I’m not visible to others, I would like to be visible to myself!

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  2. So interesting, your notion of wanting to be seen or not. I think I’m definitely in the “not” camp. Facing a camera is like facing a gun. Odd experience to share in passing: I usually post in WordPress on my desktop PC, but I do virtually all my reading of posts on my iPad. I”m on the PC right now, and happened to see your latest drawing (the balloon hat lady — wonderful). Suddenly, I’m placed in contact with your earlier work which I’ve never seen. It may be odd to be getting “likes” from things you did a year ago. WordPress in all its ramifications is still an unfolding mystery!

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    • I’m in the not camp too. (And yet, I just posted about being seen again – ha!) There’s definitely a tension in this theme. (And as far as self-portraits go, I’d still like to capture some kind of likeness. I haven’t tried in a while so that’s on the list.) I don’t do any web browsing on my phone – interesting to think that the WP experience is different on mobile.

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      • I’m beginning to suspect the iPad app gives me a keyhole view of WP. Must delve into the matter. The self-portrait is too ancient a tradition among artists not to command respect. In my heart of hearts I’d like to do it, too. A while back I turned my iPhone camera on my face several times, like being poked, and got these glaring blue eyes staring back at me! I’m thinking of painting an enlarged detail of one of those images. I can warm up to something fragmented and somewhat distorted in terms of self-rendering. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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