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I've fallen a little in love with the practice of self portraiture.  Not in a vain way but in the reference study.  To me, self portraiture is the hardest form of referenced work to do because not only are we searching for ourselves to show up on our page in the form of likeness but perhaps we are searching for the essence of who we really are to show up too.  The incredible challenge of capturing a small part of that helps tell a bit of our story in a captured moment of time.

Not only have I always been afraid to try capture myself on camera but on canvas too but I've been practicing this skill over the past two years and I've been learning to recognise myself and my very specific features and learning to accept them as such.  For example... my big wide set eyes, my full mouth and my own shape nose.  How you get to look so closely and not judge or criticise oneself.

It's a beautiful journey of self discovery and in humility in being able to lovingly look at yourself, where you are right now and capture yourself in this very moment, with dignity and grace.

The Selfie Age

We are living in the Age of Selfies yet for most of us, this is not a comfortable space.  I know for me, I had to learn the skill in not only taking pictures of myself but mostly in accepting what I found in the capture.  On the most part it's only something I started making peace with in my 40's.  Our mobile phones changed the game and so did the invention of filters and apps.  Thank goodness.  It made it an art form in itself.

When I turned 40, I embarked on a Project I called Project 40 and the project was not only take 40 images of myself around 40 different themes but then I would think deeply and write about each capture.  Although I didn't finish the project, I did get pretty far and I loved the journey.  But what it gave me was the ability to look at myself and with the use of filters and apps find beauty and creativity in my face, that I at times found hard to look at.

It helped me to find me in myself by not only looking at the outside but finding the meaning behind the face too.

It was about the study of self and it was about introspection.



The dark truth about ageing is that she comes for all of us.  And when she's ready, she's swift - to claim our skin, our hair and her ultimate prize - our youth.  It's what makes us all equal, the same.  Learning to embrace the new depth that she leaves me with and in that, finding its own kind of beauty in my same but different face.


Not only that but it gave me arty references that I'm now being able to use in paintings.


I've now used this reference 3 times with the same but different outcome.  Each holding their own unique emotion.  I have to tell you doing an eye looking upwards is way harder than you think.  I only managed to get it right in the drawing.  I never thought I would be able to do the same reference piece over again but I learnt so much in the art of seeing and the art of seeing the self.


Lesson 1 - Pencil SelfPortrait

I didn't size up or measure up and kind of roughly "eye-balled" it.  I kept tweaking it all the way through making marks and using my eraser for shaping.  In this exercise I only used my 0.5mm pencil and it's tiny eraser at the back.  You can find replacement erasers for these pencils.

Pentel GraphGear 500 0.5mm - my friend Renee Plains sent me two of these pencils and they don't leave my side.

Pentel GraphGear 500 0.5mm - my friend Renee Plains sent me two of these pencils and they don't leave my side.



Lesson 2 - Painting SelfPortrait


What I used...