Self image: making a self-portrait
Why make a self-portrait?
A self-portrait is an exploration of your face, body and personality.
A self-portrait is an historical record of the person that made it, left behind for posterity.
A self-portrait can be a visual journal documenting something that is happening or has happened in your life.
A self-portrait is a demonstration of style and skill to show to prospective clients.
A self-portrait can be a way to experiment with pose and technique using a readily available model.
Before you start to make your own self-portrait you need to think about a few things that will affect your artwork. Looking at our self-portrait collection will help you refine your ideas.
Every year in conjunction with BP, we run a portrait competition. Over time we have seen an increasing amount of self-portrait submissions, A number of these are reproduced on this site.People will feel very differently standing and peering at a tiny image, or standing back and gazing up at a huge one.
How large or small are you going to make your self-portrait?
People will feel very differently standing and peering at a tiny image, or standing back and gazing up at a huge one.
What shape will it be?
Anthony Eric Sandall Green (' Self-portrait in Father's Chair')
by Anthony Eric Sandall Green
by George Stubbs
Where are you going to place the figure ? Usually the face is the focal point of a portrait and is positioned somewhere near the middle - but it doesn't have to be. Will your self-portrait be a detail of your face or represent your whole body?
by Desmond Haughton
© BP1998 Courtesy Charles and Sue Jacques
by George Arnald
Will it be abstract or not? Are you going to put in a background behind the face or figure? Will you put in what you can actually see? Some artists use a plain colour in the background to heighten the atmosphere of their portrait. How do different colours make you feel, do they suggest certain moods? Should you use your favourite colour(s) to convey something else about yourself?
Listen to a series of podcasts exploring the lives of pioneering women, past and present.
William Eggleston was closely associated with the alternative music scene in Memphis. Revisit our 2016 exhibition and listen to a special playlist.
Links to audio and transcripts of interviews with artists, sitters and historic recordings.