I think you can safely say that every artist has, at one time or another, created a self portrait.  It makes perfect sense: you can be sure that the model is always available and they are guaranteed to work cheap.

When I think of self portraits, I always think of Rembrandt.  Perhaps it is because I am a printmaker and he was such a prolific etcher.  They are drawn with such a lovely economy of line.  And the line quality is superb!

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Self portrait in a cap, with eyes wide open
etching and engraving
Among more contemporary artists, Jim Dine is a very prolific maker of self portraits.  Many are of the ‘look in the mirror and draw yourself’ type, but he also produces more subtle ones, such as his series of bathrobe paintings and prints.
Jim Dine
The Robe Following Her
Oil on canvas
4′ x 4′
I did several self portraits as prints when I was in art school (not that long ago).  Since then, however, I have focused almost exclusively on my landscape imagery.  Stretching is good for us as artists, however, so when the opportunity presented itself recently, I decided to take it up again.  Like my regular landscapes, the image has its origins in photography (yes, I took the photo… self timers are a wonderful thing)  The photo gets me into the neighborhood, and then I make most of the decisions during the cutting.
I found that I needed to work these plates more than I usually do.  I probably had 5 iterations all together, with changes to both of the plates.  Perhaps I need more practice.  All in all, this was a great exercise for me.  It is one that I will probably come back to in the near future.
Dean Russell Thompson
Pulling the Proof
Color Woodcut
9 1/4″ x 6 3/8″
Copyright 2011, Dean Russell Thompson
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