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Self Portrait

Mixed Media Art Painting Collage

Sharon Cummings

2014

Long before the Internet, cell phones and the modern day “selfie”, artists were hard at work creating self portraits.  It was a right of passage of sorts for some and for others it was just practical.  It wasn’t always easy to get models, nor could the average artist afford to pay.  So naturally, they turned to themselves.

Frida Kahlo is one famous example of an artist who mostly painted her own image. She is noted as saying:

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”
Frida Kahlo

I believe this is true for many artists.  We spend a lot of time in solitude working tirelessly to perfect our craft.  We curse to an empty studio when we are agonizing over a piece and we dance in delight to ourselves as audience when all goes well.  And yet, the “self portrait” has fallen from grace as an art form.  It has been replaced with quick snaps loaded to Instagram.

I have drawn myself in Egyptian headdress in the past.  One teacher challenged me to draw myself as an old woman.  And I have sculpted my body and face in clay.  Each is an exercise in self reflection that cannot be garnered from a quick snap of the cell phone.

Self portraiture is a challenge.  I’d love to see more artists take the plunge by using Photoshop, paint, clay, markers and anything else that requires time and thought.

It is like a forgiveness of sorts.  A raw honest look at life and your place in it.  An exercise of thankfullness to the Universe for the gifts that you have been given to create with. You do it for yourself…

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