Diane Dobson Barton Self-Portrait


Why create a self-portrait anyway? For starters, it gives the option of a model that will sit as long as you wish, experiment with lighting,  even make yourself intentionally look older or younger, or better looking. There is no modeling fee to pay, and using the same model allows for you to experiment and study more in-depth. If you screw it up, who is going to know? You are working on this alone; the possibilities are limitless!

For most of us, our work is at the center of how we identify ourselves. Combining our art and an actual image of ourselves can set about a fascinating subject to pursue.

If you are concerned that doing a self-portrait will make you appear narcissistic, you are not alone in creating self-portraits. There is a long history of self-portraiture among many artists including Rembrandt, Kathe Kollwitz, Matisse, Gentileschi, Goya, DaVinci, Basquiat, Picasso,  Sargent and the list goes on and on.

Self-Portrait Set Up

When drawing yourself, your set up can go as complicated as you wish: from a simple hand mirror to an individual made self-portrait mirror mounted on a tripod. With today’s smartphones, you can almost instantaneously take a self and print out a reference photo.

Diane Dobson Barton Self-Portrait


When you create a self-portrait drawing, it might help to not think of the object you are working on as you. Instead, think of it merely as an exercise in shapes and values. Work from large shapes to small just as you would for any other drawing. Block out your forms, and build it up step-by-step.

Task Suggestion

So what is stopping you? Grab a mirror, or a camera, and start expressing your inner truth! Set yourself up with a timer to have a self-imposed boundary.  Once that time has passed, there is no fiddling with it. Put down your pencil and examine your work.

Look close, what could you do better next time? What do you like? Make a note of your answers and refer to them the next time you draw a self-portrait. Just like anything, you will only get better with more practice.

Remember your goal is to improve your skills, and no one else has to see your work unless you want them to see it. So go wild!