When teaching Art to children and adults I love to show them Artists in history that inspired me. Showing a small photo in a book did not pique their interest. Color copies were fine, but I was restricted to 8.5 x 11 inch format. I also needed to practice portraiture. What better way to learn than to copy other artist's self portraits!
So, I started the Portrait Project. I copy artist's self portraits on cheap canvases to share with my students. It is a win-win situation. I practice portrait painting and I have Art History props for my classes!
My first attempt was Catharina van Hemessen! Her portrait might be the first in history of an artist depicting themselves at work at their easel. Capturing her likeness was a struggle, so I went back to my comfy place: sketching with pen from portraits in books at night.
I am also painting myself, as practice. This is something I have done since my early days in college: I am a cheap model and always available! After painting the challenging but intriguing "Hay Fever Self Portrait" I had an hour or so to kill before going home. So, I quickly created Rembrandt's "Self Portrait with Upturned Collar." Copying this picture taught me so much about how he used the brush and light. The next painting I attempted was another of me, looking in the mirror. This time, I started with a limited palette, focused on light, shadow and line.