Why do artists paint (gross) self-portraits?

You know the feeling. Accidentally flicking on the front-facing camera on your phone, and coming face to face with the horror: a double-chin and squinting eyes. So why would anyone deliberately waste time and energy to paint themselves looking, well – gross? There’s a reason this is an important question, and it’s not just about the looks.

I’ve painted self-portraits because I wanted to study the light and shadow on a face – any face – and mine was the easiest to study. I’ve painted self-portraits of myself when going through difficult stuff in my life. Technical study, examination of the outer and inner self – similar motives for painting self-portraits can be identified throughout their history.

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