Painting or drawing your self-portrait is such a daunting task that many artists avoid it completely, or only seriously attempt it a few times in their life.
I think it might be a mistake to ignore that opportunity completely, however, so if you haven’t painted yourself lately (or if you’re just looking for a new project) here are six reasons you might want to give a self-portrait a shot:
1. The model is free, and available anytime you are
Sure, that “model” may not be the prettiest or most physically fit, but there’s beauty in everything, right? And talk about patient! All you need is a mirror and you’ll be set to paint for hours and hours on end.
2. Self-portraits put you in good company
Most of the great painters throughout history created self-portraits, giving us fantastic glimpses into their lives. Whenever you sit down in front of a mirror to paint your reflection, you’re following in a grand tradition of artists throughout history.
Besides, if you don’t paint your portrait for future generations, who will? No one cares as much as you do about how you’re perceived. . . which brings my to my next point.
3. You’ll work harder when it’s your face on canvas
A self-portrait is YOU, so you’ll naturally push yourself to do better than normal. Try doing a self-portrait each week for a month and see how your skills improve—it’s almost impossible to slack off with such a personal subject matter.
4. Painting a self-portrait keep you honest
Painting your own portrait is an excercise in truthfulness. It will force you to examine yourself in a way you normally wouldn’t.
Everyone has their own idea of how they look, and how they’d like to represent themselves to others. . . but mirrors don’t lie, which means you won’t be able to either.
5. And even being honest, you’re still in control
As the artist in charge, you DO get the unique opportunity of painting yourself into a situation or setting of your choice, exactly as you would like to be remembered.
And whether you see yourself as strong, wise, youthful, happy, sad, fulfilled (or anything else) art is a powerful medium for spreading that message both to others AND ourselves.
In fact, paint yourself as you’d like to be, and you’ll end up with a constant reminder of your hopes and dreams. Paint yourself at a high point, or a low point, and that image will inspire you or haunt you for the rest of your life.
A self-portrait can be so much more than just a reflection of your physical appearance—and the more you put into it, the better it will be.
6. There’s no better way to make a record of your life
Rembrandt is, of course, a great example of an unparalleled painter who left an amazing record of his life through self-portraits. And why shouldn’t we do the same?
Imagine painting at least one self-portrait a year—in ten year’s time you’ll have created a fantastic visual autobiography that will show how you’ve changed physically, how you see yourself now compared to then, and how your artistic skills have improved.
Doesn’t that sound like it’d be worth it?
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