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Hum 111 Journal

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Journal: Self-Portrait

1 The primary Reason for Painting a Self-Portrait

Assessing Internal Characteristics

One of our main struggles in life is to gain self-understanding. We continuously explore our desires, goals, fears, plans, needs…etc. The ability to effectively assess our internal characteristics is one of the main obstacles we face when thinking about a self-portrait. Due to this reason, I decided that I need to evaluate my traits, and try and think about who I am, before presenting myself to others.

I believe that a self-portrait reveals a very intimate side of an artist. Many of us possess countless traits that shape our character; unfortunately, we are often unable to convey all these characteristics in one painting. Therefore, I have decided to include those traits that I believe define me the most. I will explore these characteristics in greater detail in Section 1.1.2- Artistic Choices in Composition.

Assessing External Perception

The way we view ourselves may not correlate with the way others perceive us. Despite my internal self-exploration, and my desire to depict my many traits, those traits I wish to depict in my self-portrait might define me during my life and long after my death. It is, therefore, quite important that I consider my audience when choosing which traits to reveal. My perhaps most intimate traits can remain hidden in my other paintings and in my symbolism.

It is the conflict between internal and external depiction that will give my self-portrait much depth. I wish to be explicit and implicit, mysterious and obvious, controversial and traditional. Only this kind of self-portrait could adequately capture the complexity of my character.

2 My Artistic Choices in Composition


Colors can influence our perception and impact our emotions. It is often said that we lose the ability to see the bright colors when we are stressed or sad. A gloomy day can also influence our mood, and make us more susceptible to the feelings of sorrow. I wish to use colors not only to convey my present mood, but to also provide insight into my past struggles and my future aspirations. I wish to allow for colors to depict the complexity of my character.

I wish to use darker hues for the space around and bring more attention to the subject at hand-me. I still hope to keep the differentiation in color between the subject and surrounding quite subtle. I would like to use the space around me to also depict my traits. I hope to use brighter colors in the painting of other subjects, including my dog- she will remain by my side with a lighter hue surrounding her head.


The space in the painting will help me depict my aspirations. I wish to paint myself sitting on a hill, with a valley underneath, and skies above me.

I would like to include a hill, valley and skies to symbolize my hardships and my triumph of overcoming these obstacles. The hill will not be steep as I wish to convey to my viewers many of the challenges that will come (the “steep mountain” I will have to climb).

The valley underneath will symbolize my desire and ability to try and see “the big picture”. I wish to draw many flowers in that valley (depicting my friends), but also a few cut down trees (portraying the people I lost in my life). The flowers will be in many colors as in the real life I try and acquaint myself with people from all facets of society.

The sky will symbolize my desire to be free and close to divinity (the truth). I will use darker shades between sky and the frame, suggesting infinite space and continued search for the truth.

3 What the Portrait Represents About Me

The portrait will represent the old, the current, and the possible future me. I wish to capture this dynamics of a character by painting items that are from my past and present, and those items I wish to obtain.

I will paint myself wearing my old shirt. My old shirt will symbolize my humble background and the pride I have for my upbringing. My shirt will be navy blue, and it will have a few small holes on the sleeves, as I always tend to “roll up my sleeves” and work hard.

I will include a belt to depict the current me. The belt will have a buckle that will include the initials of my university as that is my current largest responsibility. I also wish to include the year I plan on graduating and the initials of my favorite professor. I believe that we are shaped by our education more then we realize, and looking back on this painting might help me remember the aspirations I had during this time.

I will let the sky portray the future me. The saying, “reach for the sky” very well applies here, and I hope to pursue all my dreams despite how difficult they may be to achieve. I also wish to use the sky to symbolize my quest for the truth and eternal peace.

4 My Choices of Subject with Regard to at Least Three Other Specific Pieces I have Painted

View from the Cabin

“God graced us with natural sanctuaries radiant with the light of divine love and peace”, said Thomas Kinkade about his painting The Mountain Chapel [1]. I too believe nature to be healing, and I found that I come up with the best ideas when hiking. Being around nature, and listening to the sounds of insects and other forest creatures around me, clears my mind and gives me peace.

For one of my pieces, I choose to paint a view from a cabin. This particular cabin I have never been to before, but I imagine it must look like a real retreat- all the furniture in it is made from the local wood, and you can smell the smokiness of the pine trees as soon as you walk in. The mountains around look something like the Alps. Although I have never been to the Alps, the photos I often see of these mountains remind me of a place I would like to spend my vacation.

The painting itself depicts an early summer in the Alps. The snow has melted enough to show the meadows below full of green forests, grass and flowers. While the tops of the mountains remain covered with snow, you can still see life everywhere. The scenery symbolizes passing of the old and the birth of the new.

The Night Sky

Van Gogh painted his The Starry Night in 1889, demonstrates that Darkness can still have color [1]. I too see many colors when I look at the dark sky- I see many stars and plants in different shapes and light. The night sky reminds me of all the different possibilities that exist out there, and how we are all a part of the same “coherent whole”.

For this piece, I choose to paint the sky with the moon, planets, and stars as the main subjects. I choose to make the moon the protagonist in this “story”, and for the stars to be moon’s servants. I will paint each star a different color, giving all my subjects character and depth. The colors of the moon and the stars will interact together to give the viewers a feeling of belongingness.

I hope to use this painting to convey a message of tolerance- we are all a part of one as we all fall asleep under the one and the same sky. It also suggests that our differences are beautiful (as different colors of the stars), and all belong in one and the same world (universe). The moon in this piece symbolizes divinity, or a higher purpose that we all seek to reach/serve.

My Dog –Verno and the Family

Cassius Marcellus is a well-known artist that painted “A Friend in Need”, a painting showing dogs playing poker. His fascination with dogs is displayed in his many of his works, such as a Bachelor Dog, A Bold Bluff, and Breach of Promise Suit [2]. I too have always had a particular fascination and interest with these amazing animals, and own a bulldog myself. For me, a dog symbolizes friendship, commitment, and love. It is perhaps this message of love-a need to love and be loved- that I wish to convey the most in my painting of Verno.

For this painting, I wish to show my dog Verno in a hat and glasses. He is surrounded by three bulldog puppies, and the puppies are playing with a rubber ball. Verno is a working dog, and he is mature and calm. He takes care of his family and is a very proud dad. His eyes show tremendous love and pride, but also show signs of age and a rough life.

The painting symbolizes a working class life and struggle to raise a family. It also depicts the tremendous love that parents have for their children, and the children for their fathers. My Verno is a dog that does not give up, and despite the hardships of life, keeps on fighting for his family.

5 Terms of Reference

1. Kinkade. T. (1998). The Mountain Chapel. Retrieved September 1st, 2011 from 2. Trachtman P. (2009). Van Gogh's Night Visions. Retrieved September 1st, 2011 from 3. A Friend in Need. Retrieved on September 1st, 2011 from…...

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