View Full Version : Self-portrait from Life wip

04-01-2006, 05:11 PM
For those who dont know me. I have being painting from life about couple of months now... mainly objects and/or fruits and just started with flowers too. Just about an year ago I started participating in the MOM in OIl forum and it was my first portrait. That encoraged me to take the challenge of learning portraits and my first one was a complete disaster just as my first MOM was. I kept trying and with the help of WC members over Classical, Portrait, Oil and D & S forums I have improved a great deal. And lately Artwork from life forum have being great too.

So I would love to encorage people to post their work in order to get help as so many times I have and still has gainned from others. Trial and errors as much as knowledge and feedback is what makes us grow in our skills. So go on dont be afraid to try out what is new to you or to improve something you really want to do better.

OK, for those who knows me: :D Here comes another journey into portraits this time my self-portrait. Something I never really wanted to do but thanks to Barb's lovely ideia :D, of Self-Portrait as an artist thread, I have being sketching myself from life. I wonder if I really want to add more things to an scene like showing my easel I would really need a bigger mirror or work from photo.

So to start simple and taking the time of April's Artwork forum project that is Portraits from life and I dont have a model to pose I decided to use me. Cheap, patient, and the nicest model I could get. LOLOLOL

Earlier today I started with drawing. Didnt use any measure system and also, I felt like I had to be stuck in place. Like dont move. That was stressfull. (Hey dont give up yet! This is just the beggining of the lovely Saturday afternoon I had.) So this is the result. I said was my self portrait but this is ugly (not that I am a top model of anything, but that is defenitely not me), wrong proportions and bla bla bla. Anyway hope that doesnt scare anyone! :)


I was frustated and thought that If I couldnt even do a drawing I wouldnt be able to paint from life at all. So to get over my frustation I did this. Go ahead and laugh is suppose to be funny!


Then I gave up, had a cup of coffee and wondered. After while I thought maybe with the brushes and paint things will work out better. So at 5 pm I sat on my dinner table again. This time with the easel and everything I needed and there I went with mars black, bt umber, titanium white and turp. I used the handle of a brush to measure proportions. The canvas I had was already tonned with a middle grey value, and the size is 10'' X 12'', just enough to get a real life size of my head.

When I used to paint portrait, and that have being quite few months ago, I use to start with a detailed drawing. Where I easily later started loosing it. Practicing from life without a drawing, using the brush to outline the shapes have really being helpfull. So I did it.

Here it is at the end of an hour session. I am trying to not adding details so fast. Learning how to place values and build shape. If this was an underpainting this would be very dark to be glazed on. So I need to continue to refine and lighten it up tomorrow.

At this point I am satisfied with it and I hope this one isnt going to my ruinned artwork pile. :)

I wanted to share this with the Classical forum as well because I know that people will encorage me and help me along the way. This is very new experience to me, trying to paint myself and from life. Two big challenges.

Thanks for looking. C & C is always welcome. :)


04-01-2006, 05:42 PM
Hi Rose, this is a great thread, thanks for sharing! I like all of them so far, really good. I like the first because it seems to me like you. I love the second one, really really really, the third and fourth. :) I'll be watching. :)

04-01-2006, 08:42 PM
Thanks Nickel, like I said over the other forum. I really wanted to share the emotions I went through today while working on those drawings and how they can affect us to move forward or not. By trying to paint instead of drawing again, even though I obsviously didnt suceed on the drawing, was a decision to move forward. Whereas I could just have given up and continue to paint whatever I feel more confortable with. But trial and error is part of learning. :)

Now I wish there were life class or a decent art instructional around. There isnt, so I can only count on you guys here to share my endevours.

Thanks for coming along with me Nickel. :)

04-01-2006, 10:50 PM
Hi, rose. I like the third one because it is so out of focus--which is the way that many of us tend to be.

04-01-2006, 10:55 PM
Hi JayD. Nice to see you stopping by. Thanks. :)

04-01-2006, 11:29 PM
Thanks for showing us what you are doing! It's absolutely fascinating!

You are doing a really good job with your self portraits. These are shorter paintings! Really polished work takes much longer to do if you want a really finished look.

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Barb Solomon:cat:

04-02-2006, 11:35 AM
I absolutly love the second drawing where you look perplexed but determined. It captures the essence of problem solving. Thanks for including it. The final one is showing fantastic promise as an under painting. I have been following your progress and it makes me want to jump right in and experiment with oils myself! So much to do ... so little time :(

keep em coming Rosie girl! (Pick up the African Queen a movie with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn - great movie) Humphrey now there is a poitrait challenge :)

Anita Murphy
04-02-2006, 12:05 PM
I like the second one too - real concentration on what you are doing and observing. great expression!

04-02-2006, 01:35 PM
Thanks Barb. I wasnt expecting to try out portraits in oils so soon. It is more like an endevour really than anything. I am glad I have online community to share. :)

Thanks Barbara and Anita. I can see why you two liked the second one so much. You can see the emotion. I hope to be able to portray in the oil version a sparkle of moment at the end, not only the process of it.

Though it is only a study I hope to make it special as it is the first time I am portraying myself. :)

04-02-2006, 07:09 PM
Another day of struggling. I spent couple of hours on it today. Still refining. I am having a lot of problem with the eyes. Ihave lost the nose and ears, but they arent as much problem as the eyes though.

I used today red oxide transparent, yellow oxide transparent, mars black, titanium white for skin tones and neutral grey of alizarim and phtalo green.

As I am painting in layers, I used 2 parts of turp and 1 part of stand oil in this layer.


04-02-2006, 10:49 PM
You look pretty in this one!

I can't quite tell in you photo. Often there is a shadow on either side of the eyeball. It helps us see that the eyeball is round. I see the shading on the outside, but I can't tell on the inside. There is also often a shadow under the eyelashes. (But you have that shadow.) It could be that I'm not seeing these things because of the photo.

You're doing great! I'm really enjoying watching you.

Barb Solomon:cat:

04-03-2006, 10:17 AM
Thanks for the pretty! :) It is coming along better than I thought it would. After I had ruinned Anita's portrait, I was a bit frustated to touch oils again for portraits. I did practice and studied facial structure and practice some with pencils and I can see that really helped.

Thanks for watching my progress. :)

04-03-2006, 12:38 PM
Rose, Rose, Rose! I like them all! Each and every one is a serious self teaching attempt and it doesn't get any better than that. These are as good as my first attempts, believe me.

But what is GOOD? Good is simply having the nerve and will to do it, and then understanding the logic behind it all. You are the cheapest model in town, and that model will sit still as long as you can. Do three or four mirror portraits and it will hit you that the image you see in your mirror is a complete stranger. You don't know who it is and you don't care. Your only interest is proper spacing of parts and bone structure, seeing it, then translating it to paper or canvass. And that translation will be entirely light and shadow, whether pencil or paint. Then you are on your way.

Advice. No, a direct order. Banish all ego connection with your mirror image. That image is a reversal of what all others see in your face, and is not your TRUE likeness. And anyway getting something down that looks like you is the least of your concerns. You only want to capture the proper spacing of eyes, nose, lips, chin, ears, in their proper shapes, of that person in the mirror - whoever it might be.

Don't switch to oil just because you get frustrated with pencil. Pencil requires no drying time. A gum eraser can lift mistakes back to white paper. Don't ignore measuring at this early stage. Everything on a human face is relative to all the rest. With a front on view, the inner corners of eyes will be seperated by a distance equal to the width of one of those eyes. Needless to say, both eyes should be the same width. An axis line, imaginary or lightly drawn in, will run across the center of the eyes. The top of the head and the bottom of the chin will be the same distance from the eye axis line. The bottom of the nose will be half way between the eye line and the bottom of the chin. The axis line of lips, whether closed or across a toothy smile, will be half way between the bottom of the nose and the bottom of the chin. The tops of the ears will be on an axis line that crosses the brow (or very nearly so). The bottoms of the ears will be on a line across the bottom of the nose (or very nearly so). If you put a verticle line beside the outer edge of the nostril wing (labia something in science speak), that line will run up to the inner corner on the eye (or very nearly so). These basic rules are the frame work on which the portrait is done. Establish that frame work with an oval, all the axis lines, all the proper placement, then draw in all the shadow that gives each part it's form. All the frame work will be readjusted, make no mistake.

You work at a table easel, as I do. Constantly leave your chair and step back six feet to see what you are doing. Mistakes you are making close up will leap out from six feet. Go back to your chair and correct, readjust, until all the facial parts fall into harmonious relationship. There is no law that says you have to do a mirror portrait in 20 minutes. Take 20 hours if need be. It is all learning experience and no more.

Btw. The cupid's bow valley of the upper lip should be directly under the nose in face on. Yours has slid over to our right in your painting. And that is exactly my point in practicing with pencil first. Easy to correct. Learn to see and interpret. Learn to recognize the basic RULES of realistic facial structure, and practice, practice, practice. Then move on to paint.

04-03-2006, 01:54 PM
Hi dear Luke! Thanks a lot for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I always love hearing them. You are so right, this is about learning more than anything. It was so interesting to hear that I would find a different person in front of me. Funny because, I hardly look at me in mirror. I spent actually over year without even having a mirror at home. Just got a little one last year for the bathroom so hubby could shave safely. LOLOL The point is I really didnt have much clue what my real image is and so weird to concentrate in trying to find me in that reversed image.

So good to have you checking up and commenting on this effort and following my learning journey. Ty. :)

04-04-2006, 10:13 AM
You have much more courage than I have. I could also tell from your avatar that there is an inherent beauty in your face which finally started to show up in the last image you posted. Portraiture is so difficult, but the reward for conquering it is huge. Be patient with yourself and draw, draw, draw. The key to this, in my opinion, is two-fold. Know how to render your shapes to a high degree of accuracy, then learn how to place features by using other features as landmarks. Always check the new feature against as many other features as you can.If something doesn't feel quite right, dont ignore that feeling and don't talk yourself out of addressing it. Figure out what is causing that feeling and fix it. YOu're doing a great job, don't give up now.


04-04-2006, 10:25 AM
Thanks Jon-Michael. Such great words of encoragement.

I was planning yesterday to sit again for sketching while the paints dry. But I have a cold again. I hope to get better in a day or two.


04-04-2006, 03:43 PM
Coming along nicely Rose.

And yes Nickel,I owe you a response.

04-04-2006, 04:24 PM
Thanks Titanium. Nice to see you. Missed you around. :)

I am still feeling not that well because of the cold. It was very hard yesterday not to draw or paint at all. But today I can focus at least to sketch and I couldnt resist to sit and draw my face again. I believe sketching myself will become part of me, or my art routine. I should call it "Journey into myself"" Like I have mentioned looking at me was never something I enjoyed. Go and figure why? :D

I started this as a study of my eyes. But as usual I have to slap my hands because once I start I just cant stop. :eek: This is my sketch #8 actually, counting since I beggin trying to render myself. :thumbsup:


04-10-2006, 06:39 PM
Hi my Classical friends!!! An update!!

I spent few hours on it today. Still more to do but I think I have moved quite near to the final touch up. I dont like my eyes expression and I may work on it tomorrow with flesh eyes. Still things to rework like the nose and ears and some extra touch on the mouth.

As far as experience goes I think I have really broke the ice that formed when I ruinned Anitas portrait. But the time I took to study facial structure and sketch was not bad at all. Although I got upset of not finishing my portrait swap to send to Anita, she was a great support and encoragement.

There is still more work to do. More SP to do. And hopely I will start convincing family around to sit for me. I am really enjoying doing it from life.


04-10-2006, 08:18 PM
On the other hand, you can hang this on the wall and study it at your liesure for 3,4,6 months or more, and start seeing many places that need improvement. My latest work is exactly that - a MP I posted in Portraiture last June. Just didn't look right. I called it finished too soon. So I began reworking the entire face this Jan., and I'm still working it.

04-10-2006, 09:42 PM
On the other hand, you can hang this on the wall and study it at your liesure for 3,4,6 months or more, and start seeing many places that need improvement. My latest work is exactly that - a MP I posted in Portraiture last June. Just didn't look right. I called it finished too soon. So I began reworking the entire face this Jan., and I'm still working it.

You have a good point. But you know what I do? I sign it straight way so I get ready of it. LOLOLOL Kidding. No sometimes I really do that. Sometimes I dont. It really depends.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

04-10-2006, 10:48 PM
a very haunting portrait, its lovely!!! tyree:wave:

todd james warner
04-15-2006, 08:30 AM
I love what you'r doing! cant wait to see more : )

04-15-2006, 09:45 PM
Thanks Susan and Todd. :) I am only doing doodles lately, nothing much to see. But I will post when I do get a chance to sit and work again. :)

04-15-2006, 11:57 PM
:wave: Bard... Lovely self poitrait you have done. I think you have done an excellent job my friend.