Self Portrait Oil Painting of the Artist

"Self Portrait, 2011" oil on canvas 42"x32" John Diehl

It’s been a number of years since I’ve created a self portrait, where as I’ve never actually painted one.  I completed a few self portraits when I used to draw with charcoal but haven’t done any since.  After painting some pop art figures with my new portrait style I figured it was time to paint my first self portait.  To make the painting special I started the painting on my 29th birthday.  I used a photo I had taken a couple weeks earlier as a reference.  In the painting I am seated wearing a shirt and tie along with a bowler hat that I had been extensively wearing for the past winter into the spring.  Using my high contrast style and signature color blue I also made the clothing and hat into simple line forms for a contemporary feel.

The painting is not available to the public as it resides in my permanent collection but I’m looking into making more self portraits as I progress in my art career.  For many artists painting a self portrait is a main source of material.  It can be said that one’s own image is always available to be painted.  Before cameras artists would have to use a mirror in order to capture their image.  They would have to pay careful attention to their pose as they would have to take their eyes off of the mirror to paint and then re-position themselves in order to take another look.

History of Self Portraits

Artists have been painting themselves in self portraits since man could paint.  It wouldn’t be until the early Renaissance era that artists could be readily identified as subjects in their own paintings.  This is not to say that all their paintings were strict self portraits. Instead of using multiple art models artist would place themselves in the painting to cut down on time and cost.  But the true self portraits as we know them(the traditional seated or standing figure) didn’t come about until it became a fashion.  This fashion was portrait painting itself.  With the increased wealth and interest during the Renaissance portrait painting became a very large movement along with religious painting.  In an age of no cameras or other forms of imaging it would be paintings that would document the faces of individuals and families.  Due to the high cost of producing such art works it was usually only reserved for royalty and rich patrons of the arts.  The artist themselves however could paint all the self portraits they wanted to.  Jan Van Eyck is credited with the earliest self portrait which he painted in the year 1443.

Artist self portraits have been painted ever since and most likely will never cease.  They document the artists life in a way that simple words or a memoir can ever match.  The art of self portraits have withstood the test of time and I’m happy to partake in what many artists before me have done.  I also look forward to continuing the tradition.

Wall Art

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