Task 12: Painting a Self Portrait

Painting your own portrait is an exercise in truthfulness. It will force you to examine yourself in a way you normally wouldn’t. Creating a painting of your photos, explored in Task 11, is a great opportunity to think beyond the paint, and to represent another dimension to your art..

As the artist in charge, you DO get the unique opportunity of painting yourself into a situation or setting of your choice, exactly as you would like to be remembered.

And whether you see yourself as strong, wise, youthful, happy, sad, fulfilled (or anything else) art is a powerful medium for spreading that message both to others AND ourselves.

A self-portrait can be so much more than just a reflection of your physical appearance—and the more you put into it, the better it will be.


Here is our latest FB live video showcasing some ideas for this task:


Technically, what you are trialling here is how to use your paints. To mix skin tones, and to work with observation of your chosen photograph, will stretch and challenge your painting skills.

It is bringing into practice our lessons on colour theory and the colour scales you were working with in Task 8 & 9.

As I say in the video, painting is a handwriting so let you style come through.

Observe your photo. Produce colour scales to identify which colours you will use for the highlights and the shadows, and then go for it 🙂


A quick recap on ‘meaning’ to add a new dimension to your work:

Here are some inspirational ideas of how artists have completed a half self portrait and added their own personal meanings to how they see themselves…

Naomi Fry SALA artist self portrait for The City adelaide. Illustration by Naomi Fry. AN emerging illustrator with a passion for creating intricate artwork using mixed mediums including paint, pen, coloured pencil and watercolour.

“I don’t paint self portraits often so the portrait is an expression of my warm, colourful and vibrant personality,” she says. “It shows how I want people to see me, in a warm happy light, and to show my love of colour, details, animals and nature. The monkey is there because I’ve always loved animals, in particular unusual exotic animals from different countries.  I’m also very inspired by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her life story. Many of her self portraits contain animals such as monkeys, birds and wildlife. I guess I have painted myself as a modern Frida but different, more myself and my style! I have used my eyes as a special feature as I believe they are the windows to one’s soul, expression and personality.”


SALA artist project for The City. Photo of Elaine Cheng by Mike Burton, art by Elaine Cheng.  “I think blue has always been a colour that has been close to my personality — very emotional, very calm, deep and thoughtful — so I worked with that,” she says. “It’s always a challenge to draw my own face because I find most of the time it doesn’t look like me because of the way I see things or the way I hear things, or say things … it changes the way I want myself to look. It’s why I’ve placed those hands in those three places. “


Amanda Radomi and Henry Jock Walker’s creation. Photo taken by Dean Martin.

Walker: “We were playing around with a collage of the photos and also with one of Amanda’s paintings, which we used for the hair. I used a mini garden blower for the paint at the bottom. It also says ‘lifestyle’ (to the left of the tongue) which is a recurring motif we have in our show at Tandanya.”

Radomi: “It’s fun, I think. It’s supposed to be representative of two artists working together who have very different practices, and I think it does that.”

See the website for more info and ideas;



We will learn from more artists next time, but hopefully this will build your confidence further with mixing colours and giving a story to your art 🙂



Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *