Judith P. Raynault studio

Me, Myself And I


I turned 42 yesterday! And I feel 98% good about it. I actually thought that I felt 100% good, but writing the number down just then gave me a little "oof" in the pit of my stomach that saying it out loud weirdly doesn't do. I'm sure I'll get over it soon...

Anyway, my birthday seems like the perfect time to talk about my self-portrait!



Self-portrait


I don't know for sure, but I assume that every artist since the invention of the mirror has done self-portraits. Some artists are famous for theirs, like Vincent Van Gogh or Rembrandt. Some used their portraits as a way to get across themes or ideas (looking at you Frida Kahlo 👀). We get an extra layer of knowledge about who they are/were through their eyes and artistic style.

I never thought about the fact that a self-portrait done from looking in a mirror is the way the artist sees herself or himself, but the rest of the world sees them flipped. So to understand what, let's say, Van Gogh really looked like, you should mirror his painting. Am I the last person to realise that? 🤔

Illustration close-up

I was never interested in drawing my own face. Maybe I also had at the back of my mind that you had to be a professional artist—or a 5 year-old—to do a self-portrait? In any case, a combination of watching a program about portrait artists and seeing a few self-portraits on social media recently made me think it would be a good experience to try.

I think I look more severe in my illustration than I do when my face is animated, but I quite like that. It might be how people see me when I'm lost in thought on the tube or something.

Super close-up!

I've talked about wrinkles here before so I won't get into it too much now, but it isn't always easy to be pro-wrinkles when you live in a world that tells you constantly that they're bad. Having to notice every line on my face in order to put them down on paper was kind of... pleasant? My face stopped being my face and became a subject to observe and draw. I enjoyed that judgment-free time.

I also like that, although I can't really see it because I'm too close to it, my present state of mind is somehow in that drawing. I wish I'd done a self-portrait every year to see the evolution of that state of mind through my illustrated face.



By the way, I never write that I'm grateful for your time and that I'm happy when I get a comment from you, but I really am. So let me write something that I usually think goes without saying: thank you very much for being here.

Judith xx




Inspirations


Here are a few stunning self-portraits.


How cool is this
embroidered one by Nneka Jones?!

I will never tire of Art Deco style, so I obviously love this self-portrait by Tamara de Lempicka.


I'm fascinated by Gustave Courbet's expression here. He aptly named his painting Le Désespéré (The Desperate Man).


You can count on M C Escher to have an interesting take on the self-portrait.

This painting by Amrita Sher-Gil is not only stunning but also done as a direct confrontation to Paul Gaugin's nudes.



Podcast recommendation


Ways of Seeing by John Berger is worth reading and re-reading. It raises and answers many questions. Who got to have their portrait done in the past? Why is art given this aura of mystery, and who does it serve? Ultimately, it gives you tools to interpret for yourself what you see all around you, not just art.

There are seven essays in the book. Three of them are "written" using only images, which is a very interesting exercise in finding meaning behind a series of pictures.

The third essay, on women's presence in the world, has unfortunately barely dated since 1972. It's really eye-opening and if you're a woman it's also thought-provoking.

And if you'd rather watched the TV program the book was based on, YouTube is your friend.




Shop news


I'm selling Christmas cards!! It's a bundle of three different cards. They're available to pre-order now and will be ready to ship by the second week of November.


(I'm very sorry to have to mention the C word before November, but it will be too late to announce this by the end of next month!)




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© Judith Poitras-Raynault 2022
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