An incredibly rare self-portrait in watercolour!

It’s not that this self portrait is in watercolour that makes it rare… it’s the the plain simple fact that I don’t ‘do’ self portraits!

I think the last self portrait that I attempted was probably back in school, which if this effort doesn’t wholly give away, was at least some 40-50 years ago!

I’m not sure what compelled me to take on this self imposed challenge, especially as I was feeling quite ‘brush rusty’!

I think the starting point was when I was sent a photograph that was taken of me at the recent private view of SPRING at Gallery 35 North, that features my paintings:

Me in my (un)natural habitat!

What struck me about this was the contrast between half the face in strong lighting and the other half in shadow.

I started off with a sketch, which was much more detailed that my usual starting sketches:

The sketch

My hope was that if I got the drawing correct in terms of proportion, then I might be able to paint it more freely, safe in the knowledge that the foundations were sound.

Well that was the plan!

Despite this well laid plan, I found it impossible not to tighten up in my approach and handling of the paint!

Is it me? In watercolour?

What I was really keen to avoid was painting individual hairs on my facial hair – which I felt would be like some act of desperation! I’m really pleased with some aspects of this effort. I like the sense of reflected light that’s hitting the right hand side of the face (the right hand side as you look at it!), and that overall, the skin tones are passable (which were all done with my usual palette of colours)

I did find the hair really difficult, so opted to keep that loose in the hope the focus would be held by the features of the face.

What I did struggle with, after spending far too much time looking at a picture of myself than I’m comfortable with, was whether I’d captured a passable likeness of myself or not!

If I couldn’t be sure of this, then how could I expect anyone that’s not familiar with me to know or not!

So, just for fun, I thought I’d try to stick my effort on top of the original to see what it looked like! Here’s what it looks like when I montaged my painting onto the original reference photo:

Is it me?

What a liked about this was how plausible it looks! If you were to only glance at this, you’d possibly not even notice! I know it’s not going to replace my passport photo, but as little challenge to myself, I can’t deny that I’m quite pleased with how this turned out!

Can’t wait to try painting something else now though – painting portraits and trying to to achieve some kind of likeness is super hard!

Thoughts on An incredibly rare self-portrait in watercolour!

I'd love to hear any thoughts you have about this

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