Saturday, November 2, 2013

Artist of the Month - Self Portrait

William O'Connor

"All Art is Self Portraiture" 

One of the first assignments that I always give to my students is to produce a self portrait.  This seems like a fairly benign assignment, simply get a mirror and paint yourself.  But the ability of the artist to see the truth is never more starkly realized when challenged to paint herself.  Do you paint yourself as you appear to yourself?, as you appear to others?, as you would like to appear?, or to some more abstract truth as to how you feel, or how you live your life?  This challenge is one of the greatest hurdles that artists throughout the centuries have wrestled with.  In this age of Social Media how we depict and present ourselves as artists is more relevant than ever. Below is a brief survey of how some of Art Histories greatest artists depicted themselves.  This is Art History's profile pictures.  What does each self portrait say about the artist and how they perceive themselves, and wish to be perceived by others?   Enjoy.

 Frida Khalo

 Edvard Munch

 Edward Hopper

 Eric Fischl

 Albrecht Durer

 Andy Warhol

 Paul Cezanne

 Chuck Close

 Ernst Kirchner

Eugene Delacroix

 Oskar Kokoschka

Lucian Freud


 William Bouguereau

Henri Matisse

Piet Mondrian

 Alice Neel

 Pablo Picasso

 Lawrence Alma Tadema

Cindy Sherman


 Vincent Van Gogh

James Whistler

NC Wyeth

The eye of the artist is most challenged when forced to look inward upon himself.  If you have not painted a self portrait, I encourage you to do as many of the great masters of the past have done, and try to paint yourself honestly, its harder than it looks.

Remember that Nov. 1st is Self Portrait Day.  Check out the facebook page:

Self Portrait Day@Facebook

Go Forth and Learn.



  1. Odd Nerdrum:

    Jacek Malczewski:

  2. My oil painting course teacher challenged me to do a self portrait last week, and I was surprised at how intimidated I was by the idea.

  3. Some really nice ones here. I'm gonna go with the Alice Neel, Caravaggio, and the Van Gogh for my favorites.

    1. The Alice Neel makes me crack up every time I see it. Its like you just walked in on her painting in the nude and she's saying "What? You never saw a fat old woman painting in the nude before, get over it!"