ARTISTS SELF-PORTRAIT: Whats that about anyway?

(Reading time 2.5 minutes) 

Daily self-portrait project by painter Danica Lundy, completed in one hour sittings.

In this article we will take a look at the artist’s self-portrait to understand why it is an important discipline and exercise.

When you see someone drawing, painting, and sculpting their own image over and over again it can look like bizarre act of navel gazing.

Here is a great definition of “navel gazing”. So funny!

~Self-indulgent or excessive contemplation of oneself or a single issue, at the expense of a wider view.

With all this excessive self-indulgence one might think “what kinda person cares to spend that much time looking at themselves?”

The answer – the kind of person who is willing to interpret or capture their own likeness in a self-portrait is simply put; a dedicated person.

Creating a self-portrait is one of the most difficult exercises. It presents one big rigorous challenge, and inside that challenge lives a host other hair pulling trials.  

The big struggle in creating a self-portrait comes down to balancing two very different ways of seeing and thinking, SUBJECTIVE and OBJECTIVE.

Balancing a subjective and objective point of view. When attempting a self-portrait the artist wrestles with a subjective point of view, meaning they will try to capture some of the mood or attitude of themselves, presenting a view or opinion of how they think they look. To balance this the artist will simultaneously strive to render their objective view of themselves, dealing with given facts only, such as the unique geometry of the face or body.

The second biggest challenge is dealing with a constantly shifting viewpoint.

Shifting viewpoint. When an artist is working on a self-portrait usually they are working in front of a reflection, and that means a lot of moving around. The artist views their reflection and has to move to record what they see. After a while your position begins to change little by little, and you find yourself correcting and accommodation for these shifts in view and perspective.  

These are just a few of the challenges in store for anyone wishing to execute a self-portrait. This is not a task for the faint of heart.
The truth is, creating a self-portrait is an important part of an artist’s development, both technically and creatively. The maxim “know thyself” is taken literally by the artist, and it is amazing the things an artist will discover while exploring the continent of the SELF.

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