15 selfies in paynes grey: a challenge.

I am setting myself a challenge in order to try and learn how to draw with the brush and also to look at interesting angles and cropping. The next exercise in part 3 is about a self portrait, so this will be a good ‘warm-up’ to that. I will paint 15 sketches of myself in just grey, working from selfies taken on my i pad, and for the 15th I will choose one I feel works well and that has a good, unusual angle, expression, feeling and  crop and paint a large version, just as I have been doing, and then work on top of that to build up layers of some colour. So it will be a different approach to painting a larger canvas than I have been using before.

I have painted about 10 now. It has been fun trying to take the different selfies. I have learnt that my face is more interesting in profile and I look younger in a better light ;-). I have been trying to paint fairly fast and loose to just try and capture my likeness. I think painting from a mirror view of myself will be harder. Some of the poses were more difficult and I do not feel I got them quite ‘right’, in particular a three quarter profile.

Well, I have not had time to finish my project, but here is the work so far and I will complete the last 2 and the larger full colour painting when I return. I am favouring the one in the hat, which I think I could crop across and have an interesting background.

I have to return urgently to the UK due to family problems but hope to be back very soon.


Shall I leave them pinned all over the wardrobe looking at my husband whilst I am away…? 😉


28/02/2017: I am back and continuing with this project. I painted the last 3; for a couple I moved outside thinking that the lemon/orange tree might make an interesting background.image1-63

I put the hat back on as I liked the interest that it adds, also it is very me as this hat lives on my head through all of the summer.

Some of the angles have been difficult to describe. Also, although I am old, I am not THAT old and it is hard once you start adding in lines and sags ( oh dear) you start to look like you are in your 80s (I am 55).  It has been hard to really look at myself with my artist’s eyes rather than the one I use in the morning, which I no doubt edit slightly…

The two I think work the best are below:

I think I have captured my likeness well with both of these: Also, I look my age but not too awful 🙂  I have decided to go with the profile one in the hat with the tree behind. This has a lot of light and dark areas and interesting shadows.

I have laid down a light grey in a patchy way as a ground on a square, but roughly A3, canvas.image2-41

My aim now is to draw/paint it on with a brush and then to build up some layers of colour on top and see how this works out.

So, I am struggling with getting flesh tones right. I used a blush but it is too pink, by adding some burnt sienna it has added some warmer tones. The hair is also problematic and will have to be worked upon! I am trying white with raw sienna and some ultramarine.


The mouth is not correct : because the angle is looking up from a lower view point it is trickier than i thought, and also I feel and somehow maybe the head shape doesn’t quite work out…I have painted in the branches and leaves and used the grey to mark out shadows and mottling on the wall which i think works fine. I am thinking I might now cut it to crop the right side but I am leaving it today to look with fresh eyes tomorrow.

I couldn’t leave it alone and I went back up and cropped the edge off, which instantly I could see was the right thing to do. I think added a few more touches, high lights and a little more on the hair then I thought it was pretty much there.


It is not perfect of course. I should have laid down more ground, as the canvas was too absorbent  I could have spent longer on the leaves and shadows but I feel I have spent long enough on this challenge and it is time to move on. I have learnt a lot about skin tones and hair which will help me with the next exercise. I did approach this in a different way than normal. And I do think it looks like me….




Author: Wendy Kate

Happily sharing my life in Spain with a tall bearded man from Dorset.

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