I was looking through a few old sketches I made back in college, and came across this self portrait. It made me realize that over the past few years, I’ve had a tendency to focus a little too much on collage. I think I’d really enjoy revisiting some of these other mediums that I used to work in. Perhaps I should start a new color pencil sketch series? We shall see…if anything, it’s been great getting inspired by artwork from my past. I’m looking forward to changing things up again in the future.
Before I was immersed in studying painting in college, I made quite a few acrylic paintings in high school. This piece was part of a series I made where I played around with using color to convey different moods. As you can see here, I used cool colors to convey a somber tone. I also painted the background a dark color that I lightened up a bit by painting a thin layer of white paint over it.
I made this oil pastel self portrait drawing during my sophomore year of college. At that time, I was taking quite a few studio art classes. It’s also around the time I decided that I was going to pick up art as a double major, instead of just minoring in it.
I really enjoyed working on the face and eyes for this piece, although the hand was a bit of a struggle. I thought it was fitting to share a piece from my past, to illustrate how much your work can change and develop over time. Your work won’t always be “perfect” or turn out the way you’d like it to, but each new work of art you make will help you grow a little more as an artist.
Here’s a self portrait mixed media painting that I did during my freshman year of college. If you look closely, you can see that I incorporated magazine cutouts in the hoodie. I also layered paper and painted over it to add texture to the street, buildings, and background. I used a lot of thick paint, and added even more texture with my palette knife.
This was made during a time when I was trying to find ways to incorporate collage into my paintings. At my college, I had to pick a specific concentration in art, and since collage wasn’t an option, I went for the next best thing – painting.
This is an acrylic self portrait that I made back in high school. For the background, I used thick layers of paint and then scraped away at the paint with a palette knife. I painted this portrait a little bit after the first self portrait painting that I made when going through a program at a local gallery.
This is a graphite self portrait drawing that I did back in high school – I think I was around 16 at the time that I made this. I remember that I had a mentor at a local gallery back then, an artist who gave me feedback on a few of my works of art. This portrait was made during the mentorship program, and the last piece I created during the program was this self portrait painting.
In general, I think that self portraits are really difficult to do. It’s really tough to portray yourself, especially since we have so many assumptions about how we look based on the everyday routine of looking in the mirror. It’s difficult to take a step back and peer at yourself like an outsider in order to create a portrait. As a result, I feel like most of my self portraits don’t entirely capture the way I look, however I do like to refer to them as portraits that are version of myself.
I think this is one of the first self portrait paintings I ever made. I created this piece back in high school – I think I was around sixteen at the time. It was also the first time I really learned how to mix acrylic paints and create a wash before I started the whole painting process. You can see a little bit of purple from the purple wash shining through, since I used it to help with the look of the shadows.
I made this painting through a mentor program at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, Virginia. I was paired with a painter who taught me about the basics of painting. I met with her about once a week, and she critiqued my work and gave me some helpful advice. In fact, some of her advice is something I still remember and think about when I make artwork even today. She told me that I shouldn’t assume what things look like in my mind, I should pay attention to all the shapes that make up objects in real life. You can see I did a little bit of assuming with this piece since my eyes are football shaped instead of being more rounded.
What’s a little amusing about this piece is that you can see that I had orange streaks in my hair at the time. I had a habit of dying my hair a lot in those days.
Again, self portraits are pretty tough, and you can tell that I was new to the painting process. This piece just goes to show that you have to start somewhere.
The other day, I mentioned that I was going through old sketchbooks. This is actually another one of the drawings I came across – it’s a self portrait that I made with color pencil.
I’m realizing I really need to revisit other mediums and play around with them. These older drawings of mine are inspiring me to start changing things up a bit. As much as I enjoy making collages, I’m gearing up to start having my variety in my artistic life.
The other day I was going through old sketchbooks that were in my closet, trying to figure out what to get rid of. Most of the pages were full of notes, jotted down back when I was in college. However, on some pages I found a few drawings, so I removed the pages that had drawings and threw out the rest of those books.
This is one of the drawings I came across – it’s actually a self portrait. Self portraits have always been a bit of a struggle for me – it’s really difficult to depict yourself. So whenever someone says one of my self portraits doesn’t look like me, I like to say it isn’t supposed to. It just represents a version of me.
So I decided I’m finished with this for now. It looks slightly like me–I’ve realized that I’ve always had trouble doing self-portraits. It’s so much easier to create works of other people. Perhaps this is because I assume I know what I look like, and therefore I have trouble getting the details down right. I might return to this at a later time, but for now, I’ve decided I’m done.