Art 2- Self Portraits – Due 3/26


1. Read the commentary about Van Gogh’s self-portrait and comment on

what interests you most about the commentary and the portrait.

Van Gogh self-portrait

2. Read the commentary about Rembrandt’s self-portraits and comment on

what interests you most about the commentary and which portrait you find most interesting and why.

Rembrandt self-portraits

3. Read the blog about Kollwitz’s self-portraits and comment on

what interest you most in the commentary and which portrait  you  like the most and why. (You may google more of her portraits than those shown here.)

Kollwitz self-portraits

4. Finally, comment on the process of drawing your own self-portrait following the experience of drawing others.


7 responses »

  1. I find the contrast between the mobile background and Van Gogh’s motionless body to be very interesting because it accentuates the tension in his posture and his expression, especially the tenseness and strain expressed through his eyes. I also thought it was interesting yet understandable that Van Gogh believed painting one’s self-portrait often led to an identity crisis. In the article about Rembrandt I was surprised to find that the number of self-portraits he created is “unique in history.” For me, one of his most interesting self-portraits is his “Self Portrait with Saskia.” Overall I find it to be an interesting composition and I like the contrast between the shadows and hard etchings of himself and the lightness and softer more fluid lines of the woman in the background. I also like the smile that he portrays through his eyes. In the article about Käthe Kollwitz I enjoyed learning about how she noticed both the light and the dark in life and believed it was her duty to portray this through her artwork. One of my favorite self-portraits that she created is the one that is a close up of her face. ( ) I believe this composition is an excellent portrayal of light versus dark. I have not started drawing my self- portrait because I was absent on Thursday but I know that when I painted a self-portrait of myself earlier this year I learned how much careful analysis must be done in order to accurately portray the facial features, especially their three dimensionality.

  2. I thought it was interesting what Van Gogh wrote about how he wanted to find a better likeness of himself through his self-portrait than could be found through a photo. I really liked his quote: “People say, and I am willing to believe it, that it is hard to know yourself. But it is not easy to paint yourself, either.” This made me think a lot about what it takes to make an honest portrait of oneself, and the honesty it requires, as well as the understanding of who you are as a person. Like Wisdomrosecreations said, I also find the contrast between the subject of the painting (Van Gogh), and the background to create an interesting effect that highlights a kind of fixed rigidness about Van Gogh’s face. The contrast of the colors also provides an interesting effect. The orange hair stands out clearly and poignantly from the rest of the painting, while the eyes seem to reflect the light and airy feeling of the background. Perhaps this is a reference to the way Van Gogh felt he saw things, or the way his eyes were a window into his soul or true feelings. As for Rembrandt, I was fascinated at how many self-portraits he created. I thought it was almost as if he was creating a journal or diary throughout the years that reflected his emotions at the time. (While searching for larger images of his self portraits, I came upon a great video that shows all of his different self-portraits morphing from one to the next: I especially liked his self-portrait with beret that was unfinished ( I liked the dark tones and even though it was unfinished I thought it was intriguing.
    Käthe Kollowitz’ works were very disturbing, but also beautiful. They deal with a feeling of darkness and depression, the worst moments of human life. There is a sense of bleakness and despair in the faces and figures she drew. One of the quotes in the blog post I especially agreed with was this one: “Her numerous self-portraits are totally unpretentious and as transparent as possible. Even in youth, the artist looks serious, prematurely old. Thus her outward appearance does not change as much as one might expect in the self-portraits that follow her to the age of seventy-one. Kollwitz’s self-portraits depict a constant, unwavering state of inquiry: a searching, rather than a finding; a questioning, not an answering.” I also noticed this quality in her work, and I found that there was something incredibly honest in her portrayal of the face. One of the pictures I found the saddest but most incredibly emotional in the way it was drawn was her 1903 etching “Woman with Dead Child” ( I found this drawing haunting but beautiful at the same time. Her use of darkness and shadows, and the dark lines conveyed grief, despair and heartbreak in a way that words simply cannot describe.

    For my own self-portait, I will try to bring to it the same honesty in which I’ve seen from these three great artists. I understand now that to paint a real and honest image of yourself, you must know yourself deeply – the good, and the bad. Only then can you achieve something truly great.

  3. One of the things that stands out the most to me about Van Gogh’s self portrait is that his eyes, suit, and the background are all the same colour. I was also amazed that he made over forty-three painting/drawings of himself. Likewise with Rembrandt, I cannot imagine making so many depictions of myself. I also was interested how Rembrandt drew four small etching of himself with different emotions, the lines of which expressed that emotion as well. My favourite self-portrait that he painted was the one titled “Self Portrait, Seated”. I like it because of how the simple lines make a picture that is so expressive. It made sense that Kathe Kollwitz focused on pain, death, and poverty, because these themes were evident in all of the works that I saw on that website. I liked the sketch of her drawing. The majority of her arm is just a scribble, but it is clear what is drawn.

  4. Oh, I forgot to talk about my own experience. Anyway, drawing a self-portrait was not as hard as I thought it would be. I was amazed that the finished result did look like me. In drawing myself, I really had to look in the mirror, and I realized how bushy my hair was, which I hadn’t really noticed before.

  5. Van Gogh’s self portrait gives me a sign that he is a extremely meticulous person. His eyes really discribe his personmality well which is kind of out -world. But the more impressive part is the details on his face. The wrinkle looks really impressive. And it is very clear between lines. The background is also an important part of his self-portrait. The blue background with his yellowish face turns out well. REMBRANDT’S SELF PORTRAITS include much realistic living things. I t always connects with
    different kinds of people, different things, although it well reflects the real life, it is lack in a dramatic way. Kollwitz self-portraits are metaphysical which are not major in painting the shape of his face but the emotion or feeling that he wants to express.
    By drawing others and see the pictures that others drew me, I found that I am totally different between your own eyes and others’ eyes. Combining all kinds of version, it is more easy to draw yourself with much more details.

  6. what i find most interesting about van gogh’s self portraiture is his comment to his sister about how the study of ones self in the form of a picture can often lead to an identity crisis. i find this both compelling in it’s literal sense, that you can drive yourself to the brink by painting your own face, but also interesting given what happened to van gogh later in life. he predicted his own demise when he first began the self portraits. the idea of rembrant’s portraits being a means for him to communicate with himself, an inner dialogue is very interesting to me. i like the idea that he uses the medium as a way to communicate with his subconscious and learn things about himself that he might not have known. my favorite portrait is his 1630 wide-eyed portrait. i love the way the lines are all curves, they are random in their own right but compose a very telling expression. what i find most interesting about Kollwitz’s self portraits is the amount of emotion they convey. they aren’t the standard objective portraits of rembrant, they show feeling and movement and are much more about the feeling of the face than the actual realistic features. my favorite one is this one because of how she’s drawn the hand. something about the roughness and texture of it implies age and at the same time strength, it’s a really interesting composition. in drawing my own self portrait i stopped looking at myself as myself, instead i focused on the details and the shapes and the face i was drawing became just a face, it wasn’t me. i was able to look past my own personal judgements and simply draw what i saw. it was freeing, but at the same time, i wound up feeling rather disconnected from my work.

  7. 1) It is interesting that Van Gogh said that “I am looking for a deeper likeness than that obtained by a photographer.” I think that drawings can capture aspects of a person that photos can not.
    2) I like that people called Rembrandt’s work a visual diary. This quote stood out to me: “Over the years, Rembrandt’s self-portraits increasingly became a means for gaining self-knowledge, and in the end took the form of an interior dialogue: a lonely old man communicating with himself while he painted.” You have to really look deeply at yourself when you paint. I like the Self Portrait at the Window, Drawing on an Etching Plate, because it is very informal.
    3) It is interesting that she depicted darkness. I like the “Self-portrait (Selbstbildnis),” because it fills the page.
    4) I have found that you really have to look closely at yourself because you don’t notice certain details.

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