One of the best exercises an artist can do is to paint and/or draw their self portrait. You have a free model to experiment with, and you don't have to show anyone what you've done if you don't like it :)
Back in 2008 I had painted my first self portrait since college. It was a part of the marketing effort my grandmother, Barbara Bradshaw; my aunt, Perry Johnston; and I did to promote our three-generation show at the Gibsons Art Gallery in Gibsons, B.C. Canada. We each did one and those three portraits were used on all marketing materials, and were the first pieces you saw as you entered the gallery during our show.
At the time I painted it, I was going through a new divorce, had a three-year-old and was struggling to figure out my future.
It was time for a new one. This one was in my head for a while before I got around to painting it - selfies are all the rage on Facebook and beyond these days. I thought it'd be funny to do my portrait with those in mind. The Original Selfie.
Here are the steps I took, starting with the best possible photo I could get of my reference material - since I was using a mirror to capture my image, this is all I could get ;) Not one to waste anything, I painted over the sketch of another painting that never did get started.
NOTE: This is purely sentimental -but the french easel I used to paint this belonged to my grandmother :)