Why I Paint Self-Portraits
A portrait is more than a representation of the outside features of the person. It is meant to represent their inner world and their character (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013). It is not enough simply to render the physical features without paying attention to those features that provide clues as to who that person is on the inside. To render a self-portrait is to tear off the flesh it exposed the true nature and essence of who want is. The presentation of one’s soul in this manner is the most precious gift that one can give. It is to provide a likeness that defines how one wants to be remembered by future generations.

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One’s social status depends on their proximity or from the arts of manual labor. Artists are considered craftsmen, rather than intellectuals (Woods-Marsden, 1998). Contemporary artists with myself are not yet considered intellectuals, but are judged by the execution of the stroke of the hand. The artist as a mediator between the creator’s inner world and their audience. Self-portraits are the creation of artist who work for royal courts. Self-portraiture can be a steppingstone to getting higher recognition and position within society. It can be said that the reason for painting a self-portrait has a dual purpose. The first is to provide a lasting legacy of oneself that will last beyond their years. The second is to demonstrate one’s talents in hopes of improving one’s station in life. Only by having works on display in prominent places can one hope to achieve higher level clientele and perhaps be named among those in a higher station in life.

Artistic Choices
The artistic choices of the painting are dictated by the prominent styles of the time. If one wishes to demonstrate their skills, they must provide a sampling that is within current taste and standards. Every work on display must represent the best talents of the creator. As is the style, the colors chosen are somber and shadowy. The muted tones bring out the highlights where the light touch is the subject. The light source will be a single point, touching the left side of the painting as it coming through a window.

As is the tradition, the subject of the portrait is rendered such that the background is dark, which highlights the subject and makes them stand out. The subject of the painting is placed in the center of the canvas so that it appears to be looking directly applied the viewer. In this way the subject makes a connection to the viewer as if they shall make contact at any moment.

What My Portrait Represents
A Portrait is not merely their representation of the outside of that person. It represents a person that one can actually meet if they would walk down the street (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013). The question that every artist of portraiture must ask themselves is whether they should paint as they are, or as they wish to be seen by the public. Does one paint the flaws realistically, or should they be covered up so as not to be noticed? Does one suppress their full passion and emotion as if in the company and good friends, or does one present the more refined self that one would present in the presence of royalty?

One could present themselves at any stage in their life that pleases them. It would be possible to paint oneself as if they were eight youth. The answer to that question is whether painting oneself unrealistically is to be true to the popular trends of the time. Realism has become the prominent feature in art and therefore will dictate what I choose to represent in my artwork. Therefore, I shall present by self as I see myself when I look in the mirror every morning. I will present the somber appreciation that comes from an acknowledging one’s inner self and his relation to the image that is presented to the world on a daily basis. Realism attempts to maintain the true character of the subject, including the parts that are not as Savory as one wished. I wish to capture the deep quality of my eyes and the contemplative nature that I bring to my study of the world around me.

Choices of Subject
Portraits, including self-portraits, are meant to instill a sense of realism in the viewer. They are meant to bring a sense of real life to the subject (Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013). Portraiture brings the viewer into the world around the subject. It allows them to see the light as the subject of the portrait sees the light. The objects are presented as if the subject is interacting with them in the manner in which would occur on a daily basis. Portraiture allows the viewer to step into the world of the subject and experience it as if they too were a part of that world.

In a world of realistic portraiture, it is imperative to present the world not as one wishes it to be, but rather as it is. The portrait must be believable to the viewer. This portion as the artist to make note of the finest subtleties in the subject. The objects of the paintings must represent the world as it is. One must take care not to overstep one’s station in life, or it could be seen as a threat to those in power. Proper use of subject and setting indicates that one is aware of one’s place in life that they have respect for the institutions of society.

Contemporary artists walk a line that forces them to subdue their innermost passions and maintain a sense of modesty. Only in doing so can one hope to retain the graces of their sponsors. One must remember that they paint not for themselves, but for those who admire and wish to display their work. In the future, perhaps, the artist shall paint for the pleasure of painting and to explore their innermost passions. For not, the painter is a hired craftsman, just like the woodcarver or the cobbler and must act in the interests of their ability keep food on the table and clothes on their back.

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art. (2013). Portraiture in Renaissance and Baroque Europe. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/port/hd_port.htm
  • Woods-Marden, J. (1998); Renaissance Self-portraiture: The Visual Construction of Identity and the Social Status of the Artist. Yale University Press.