Self Portrait as Self Analysis

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69)

Rembrandt created more than ninety self portraits documenting his changing appearance. One of the main reasons that Rembrandt painted himself was that he could not always afford a model. He also made drawings of his face posing different expressions in order to archive them for use in grander compositions.


Map Rembrandt’s changing appearance and mood in his paintings, transforming from a youth to old age:

Self Portrait, 1629

Self Portrait in Costume, 1940

Self Portrait as Zeuxis, c. 1662


Van Gogh (1853-1890), Self Portrait, 1889

Van Gogh created many self portraits during his career. Rather than trying to accurately record his visual appearance, Van Gogh used self portraiture in order to explore his inner psyche and his emotional state. One of his most famous paintings is his Self Portrait, 1889. Van Gogh was aged 36 when he painted this.


Do you think the colours in this painting are realistic?

How do the colours make you feel?

Describe the brushstrokes?

How do you think Van Gogh is feeling?


Van Gogh Practical Projects

  1. Post Impressionist Self Portrait

Using a mirror create a self portrait in the same style as Van Gogh’s painting, Self Portrait, 1889

  1. Draw your own image on a sheet of A3 sheets of paper/card
  2. Make sure the proportions of the face are correct
  3. Use paint or oil pastels to complete your portrait
  4. Change the scale and direction of your brushstrokes (small brushstrokes for the face and larger brushstrokes for the background)
  5. What mood are you in? Use colour to express your emotions and feelings
  6. Make different shades by mixing colours. Observe all of the different shades of blue that Van Gogh used
  1. Still Life 'Selfie'

Van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles, 1888 is often described as a self portrait because it tells us a lot about him as a person. Do you think that your bedroom says a lot about your personality?

Collect five of your favourite belongings and arrange them in an interesting still life composition. A 'still life' is an arrangement of inanimate objects.

Photograph the objects or draw them using pencils and colouring pencils. Add tone (a degree of lightness or darkness) to create the illusion of form/three-dimensionality.
Don’t forget to include the cast shadows which are the shadows underneath or to the side of an object.


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