“The easiest time to cure an illness, is before it is accepted as part of the self-image.” – Jane Roberts.
How I see myself is completely subjective. Like anyone, there are things about my appearance that I am relatively ‘okay’ about and there are many aspects which I am not happy about. Setting out to make a self-portrait, of some type, is quite a daunting prospect. After all, how I see myself and how others regard me may be poles apart, right? Before you commit to any form of self-portraiture, it is important to let go of any concern about the end product. Whoever sees the final image will make of it what they will. My task remains to simply create an image that results from my own creative process.
The process of creating a self-portrait will bring you to a point of self-examination. What do you see? Can you see yourself? Who are you? Does your appearance match with the person you see yourself as being? What is your style vs how do you present yourself? Then, in my case, there is my relationship with Parkinson’s Disease. How does that feature in my image of myself, in how others see me and in who I am? How will that manifest in my artwork?
In this case, I started out by making a pencil sketch, which I then went over with black ink. I had decided that this self-portrait would be in the ‘line-art’ style, rather than to create a painted portrait; my usual default where portraits are concerned.
Creating a ‘line-art’ form of portrait was simpler and the caricature style that the end result achieves somehow, in my view, makes the finished piece a little more humorous and informal than a painting. This sat well with me, for I tend to prefer to have a more light-hearted view of myself.
I simply found a photograph of myself and decided to copy that, rather than work from memory or from seeing my image in a mirror. What I learnt is that I need to improve in two areas in particular. The first; I need to work on scale. I found it difficult to get the shape and size of the upper part of my head and my chin line. I find that sizing a facial feature can be incredibly tricky. The second; I really need to work on replicating a mouth or lips. Somehow, I just seem not quite to get a mouth in the right expression or proportion. I don’t think I am far off, but this is always the aspect of the face that I find hardest to get right. Artists often say the eyes are the most difficult, but I feel that I am doing well in catching something of the subject, in how I create the eyes. It is the mouth that is the difficulty for me.
Do you have any tips that you would be kind enough to share, in the comments below, about how to approach the mouth/lips when completing a portrait? Your experience, advice, guidance, suggestions, expertise, skill and input would be much appreciated. Your knowledge will also help other people who, like me, struggle with getting this part of a portrait right.
Here is my finished artwork. I had drawn it on white paper but then I cut it out and stuck it onto a pale-green card. I like the contrast between the cut out piece and the coloured background. What do you think?
(C) Dean G. Parsons. 2020.