A journey with self-portraits

A journey with self-portraits

Serving as practice and an exercise in introspection, self-portraits have been an important part of many artists' journeys for as long as there have been paint and brushes (and probably long before that). They're a visual expression of a personal moment in time, a raw and true reflection of self through art. It’s record-keeping in the most intimate way and sharing/showing them is like revealing a page from a diary. Yikes! They can offer insights into the state of mind and glimpses into the artist's true self. Self-portraits are a deeply personal undertaking that exclaims, 'This is me, I was here.'

artist self portrait 2013
Self portrait 2013
self portrait abstract 2014
Self portrait 2014

Life drawing has never been my thing - I'm neither particularly good at it nor, to be completely honest, am I interested in it. While I can certainly appreciate the technical and creative process of it, I'm enormously more excited by emotionally expressive art. So, years ago, when I found myself at the back of a life drawing class that was a course graduation requirement and tasked with a self-portrait assignment, I did the only thing I could do, the only thing I wanted to do, the only thing I was compelled to do. I rebelled in the most colourful way.

2015 self portrait abstract
Self portrait 2015
"Lifelong love letter"
2017 artist self portrait
Self portrait 2017

While the other students had mirrors in front of them, intently studying their nose structure and measuring the distance between their eyes, I was slathering orange across my canvas. It was the first time I had intentionally used paint and brushstrokes to consciously record how I was feeling in that moment. The discovery of ME in paint, on canvas, was a geyser of realization. Needless to say, I didn't pass Life Drawing, but it was the first major breakthrough into connecting with my true self through art and a HUGE leap forward for me. (I have to say, when I turned in that weird composition of colour as my ‘self-portrait,’ I had a beautiful and honest conversation with my instructor about what it means to be an artist. He was most complimentary, not necessarily in my painting, but in listening to my intuition and staying authentic to my own expression of self. Such encouraging, important words I remember to this day).

artist self portrait 2018
Self portrait 2018
This was repainted as a GIANT canvas and became the first abstract I sold in my shop!
self portrait abstract 2019
Self portrait 2019

Since then, I've tried to paint a ‘self-portrait’ each year. Interestingly, they've always been abstract (that says something right there, doesn't it?). These are paintings that are just for me, where I seek to capture how I'm feeling as it relates to my work, reflecting the style and colours I’m drawn to at that time, and generally trying to express where I am along my creative journey with work that best represents where I am with my art.

artist self portrait 2020
Self portrait 2020
artist self portrait 2021
Self portrait 2021

Along the way and in a few desperate moments, I had to sell a few (I'M SO MAD AT MYSELF!!), but I've managed to hold on and not lose, over time, a number of them. I thought it would be fun to share a few with you here. It's so interesting to see the experimental colour choices develop, the growth of confidence in brushstrokes, increasingly more unusual and interesting designs and shapes, and a deepening of the authenticity of ideas.  

artist self portrait 2022
Self portrait 2022, 'Rose'
An abstract painting included in the 'Summer Detours' collection

This look back is making me want to look forward and think my 2023 self-portrait day needs to happen STAT! Excited to dedicate a day to it soon.

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