The Art of Self-Portraiture

Vincent  Van Gogh, a master of self-portraiture, used portrait painting as a method of introspection. It is best expressed in a letter to his sister:

 “I am looking for a deeper likeness than that obtained by a photographer.” Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Wilhelmina van Gogh. Written Summer/fall 1887 in Paris.

Later Gogh wrote to his brother Theo “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. The portraits painted by Rembrandt are more than a view of nature, they are more like a revelation”. Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written c. 25 July 1888 in Arles.

Looking in the Mirror

My first self-portrait painted from life. I believe that painting a self-portrait by using a mirror enables me to capture my inner likeness better than using a photo.

Self-portrait, oil on board, © 2015 Petra Terslova

Self-portrait, oil on board, © 2015 Petra Terslova

Thus, in the picture above, I purposely worked from a mirror.  In this head-and-shoulders view, I am wearing a  red shirt which I usually work in. My eyes are observing myself in the mirror. My face seems to be a little strict as I focus my attention fully on the painting.

This work is available at

Self – Portrait, Oil on board, 30cm x 40cm, © 2015 Petra Terslova

Self-portrait, oil on board, © 2015 Petra Terslova

Self-portrait, oil on board, © 2015 Petra Terslova


4 responses to “Self-Portrait

  1. Good work! I do like Vincent Van Gogh. I’m very partial to his drawings as well as the paintings. His self-portraits are impressive, but I suppose my favourites would have to be “The Potato Eaters”, “The Starry Night”, “The Starry Night Over the Rhone” and “The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum” amongst others.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting project, Petra … a fun adventure, I’m sure!! When I used to draw, I remember screwing my face up into the expressions of the people I was drawing … so it’s fun to me to see your very intense expression!! Love this!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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