International Day of Self-Portraiture

…was yesterday.  Oops.  I was intending to have this up yesterday, but then life happened.  Had a painting (another music inspired piece) that I was working on which I ended up mostly trashing out of frustration.  Thankfully my self-portrait turned out much better, and I think it is worth showing.

Self-Portrait Line Drawing

The lines

Self-Portrait Valued

The values

So, November 1st has been claimed as International Self-Portrait day.  How many of you celebrated it?!  Well, now you know for next year, right?  I decided to try a digital self-portrait, but try to emulate traditional materials to some extent.  I started out with a simple contour line drawing on top of a layer of flat gray.  I wanted to start on top of a good mid-tone value so that I could easily punch in some shadows and highlights to quickly create form.  I draw in the contours of the values as they fall over the form as well – kinda just recognizing simpler shapes and piecing them together to create the subject.  It’s a method that I have found to work really well for me.

Once I had my lines in, I created a new layer between the lines and the layer of gray, and started blocking in the values with a brush that emulates chalk, charcoal, or pastels.  It’s a lot like throwing a coat of ground charcoal onto your drawing surface and then using both additive and subtractive (charcoal and eraser) marks to create your drawing.  That was pretty much the last step.  My light was coming from up above and to my left, which hopefully you can see in the final drawing.  It was the single light source, which is why the background is so dark (perhaps too dark? Got a bit of tenebrism going on here – thanks Caravaggio!)

It is always pointed out to me that I look angry or upset in my self-portraits.  Actually it seems to be a general trend among artists when they are drawing themselves – perhaps that is why we are all perceived as sad, depressed, angry at the world types of people.  From my experience, artists are actually some of the most pleasant, happy people (okay, I might be a bit biased).  That perceived anger in self-portraits, at least in my case, comes from the intense concentration I engage in when drawing – so if I were to look happy and smiley in a self-portrait, it would probably have to been done from photo reference.  Otherwise it’s hard to keep that intent look off my face when I’m drawing.  So, don’t mistake that look for anger, it’s actually the face of extreme intentness.

To end with today, I want to post a link of self-portraiture epicness.  It is one of the things that really got me interested in self-portraits.  This artist, Andrew “Android” Jones, practiced drawing a self-portrait once a day, for over 1000 days if I remember correctly.  Click here to see a poster compiling a whole bunch of them.

I haven’t even gotten into answering why someone would want to draw a self-portrait in the first place, which I was hoping to address.  That would be a good topic for discussion though – what are your thoughts?  Can you see the pros (and the cons too, why not?) to drawing oneself?

Thanks again for reading, and have a great week!



5 responses to “International Day of Self-Portraiture

  1. hey what a coincidence! I actually celebrated it by posting a self portrait on my blog but honestly, I didn’t know until I found this post!

    great sketch btw. I think you’re talented!


    • Thanks Karen. I’m glad someone else celebrated self-portrait day!

      I checked out your blog as well, some pretty vivid photography there! Are you into digital painting/drawing as well?


      • hi brady,

        me again. not really into digital painting but would love to if given a talent like yours . but i fully appreciate any digital art related.

        So Keep em posts coming!

        – karen

  2. The first one reminds me of Boarderlands, just without color.

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