How to not paint a self portrait

First you decide to learn how to paint a portrait. Then, you try and try on your own but, you find out its really more difficult than it appears and, it doesn’t even appear that easy. Then, you look for a teacher, which may or may not work. I went to art school and even there I didn’t even find a good teacher. I only learned three things in art school:

  1. You have to compare the shape and size of everything to the shape and size of everything else.
  2. The direction of the light is important.
  3. If you choose to paint with oil paints you spend a lot of time washing brushes

So, if you don’t want to look for, or can’t find a teacher, I can sympathize. I live in the forest between the Backwoods and No Man’s Land. No art teachers here. Next best thing is to look at a lot of portraits, so, pack up and go off to a museum. Better yet, search portraits in Google, Bing or Pinterest. Better because you can see lots and lots of portraits and because you don’t have to go to a museum.
Now, get lots of paper and pencils or ink. (Don’t even think about color yet. Color complicates everything.)Also, get a large trash bin and maybe a pack of matches (now that it’s December the nights get a little cool and it might be a long night) and, try, try again. You will probably do better. Not necessarily good, but, better. That was me anyway.
After a while, when you judge you are ready, take a break. Go to the closet and get out your digital camera. Take a bunch of pictures of yourself and pick out the best ones. Run them through the best software you can find and print them as large as your printer allows. Hang them on the wall, lean back and put your feet up.
Time to celebrate! Have a glass of wine, or bourbon, or heroin, or whatever. You have succeeded in creating a self portrait even if you still can’t paint. Take comfort in the idea that you would paint better now than you did before. Tomorrow … to be continued … back to the drawing board.


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