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Self Portrait. Tuesday August 2, 2016

I recently attended the National prestigious portrait exhibition at the art gallery of New South Wales. The definition of what a portrait is very loosely defined now so there were traditional portraits, photo realism portraits, tiny portraits, huge one; full figure ones, collages, book covers, a tiny figure on a huge canvas.

The guide told us that portrait should convey something of the personality of the sitter, and it helps if the sitter and artist can bond.

There were 3 portraits that dealt with the subject of mental health in different ways:

1 The artist painted a well-known actor/comedian who has been public about his struggle with anxiety and depression. The portrait shows the aging actor in a serious troubled pose with his hand on his forehead.

2 An ex policeman who ended up with PTSD. The enormous portrait show his face in colours of red tone, looking downward and very sad.

3 Man lying on floor looking upwards, in dark colours.

There were also a number of self portraits using many different mediums.

How would you paint your own self portrait?

Would you include your depression as part of your picture? Would you make it big or small?
Would you make yourself the centre of the picture or would you be a small part among lots of other parts of your life? Would you use one colour, lots of colours , bright colours or somber colours. Would you paint in oils acrylic, pencil drawing? Would you use collage?

Remember the most important thing is to convey something of your personality through the portrait.

So tell me what your self-portrait would look like and what part of your personality will you be conveying.

Welcome the first Moodscope self portrait gallery.

I can't wait to hear about your portraits.

Let the gallery open and the exhibition begin.

My self portrait would be a collage of many books, toys, nicnacs, bags, shawls, with my head peaking through all the books etc. It would be bright and busy and convey my love of books and my shop contents.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Anonymous Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 6:04am

Myself portrait would be like an old photo of mine - happy, quiet while looking at the sky. Silvia (I could not post using my name.)

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 9:36am

Anon Tue 6:04am I like the way you are looking at the sky in your portrait.Thanks for your reply.

Isabella Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 7:04am

My portrait would be of me when I was young - pretty and colourful. But it would be surrounded by closed boxes - that's where I keep all my sadnesses and resolved or maybe unresolved thoughts. No-one would see what is in the boxes, only the young smiling girl. In my singing group we have to take on a character and sing with her in mind - I'm a young twenty something, looking for a husband, happy in my work (we're shanty singers, so I'm a fisher woman). My Facebook page photo is my current head with a great big smile. My depression is always hidden, I try to put on a happy face. (I'm actually in my sixties with a lovely husband and son.) Thank you for the thought-provoking blog, Leah, looking forward to reading the others. It's interesting that the three portraits above are all miserable, my self portrait would have to show positivity even though there are hidden bits.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 9:38am

Isabella, Thanks for adding your portrait.By your detailed description i can see your smile and all the boxes hiding your sadness.

Eva Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 11:49am

Hi isabella and Leah, I wonder if these portraits were sombre because they were not self portraits. It might have been interesting to see these alongside the sitters own self portraits. I am guessing artists perceptions only go as deep as visual surface and the amount they have managed to get to know their sitter. I know in my work that I do a lot of study about my subject before I paint them so that I can get to know the workings and attempt to present a "whole" picture, but I know even in doing that that it is still just my perception that I present.

Leah Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 2:09am

Eva, Sorry I missed your reply before. That is a thoughtful insight about the difference between a portrait and self portrait which is why I wanted to have people describe their self portrait and how they would portray their depression. Thanks so much for making me think about this. I would love to see your paintings.

Hopeful One Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 7:54am

Hi Leah- such an interesting,thought provoking idea but one wonders if there can be a fixed portrait of us? The more I meditate the more I realise that this person who I thought had a fixed personality and character is in fact always changing.On some days the meditation feels great but on other days there is a reluctance to participate making it difficult for the mind to settle and indeed I have simply cut my loses and put my mat away.

So my portrait is how I am now. People say I look a lot younger than my age and at least one person thinks I am handsome so my image should show that picking out the features that make it handsome. I like to smile as often as I can as that subtly changes one's mood for the better.Besides I believe one is not properly dressed unless one has a smile on one's face.Not the fixed smile of a humourless person.It would be in charcoal a medium which I favour when I draw portraits in my painting class .The background would be plain as I generally have nothing to hide.

But enough about me(yes that modesty too should be in the face) so here is our laugh.

A woman goes to the dentist. AS he leans over her,standing by her side to begin working on her teeth,she gets hold of his crotch. The dentist says, "Madam, I believe you have got a hold of my privates." The woman replies, "Yes. Now we will be careful not to hurt each other, won't we?"

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 9:41am

Hopeful One, Your charcoal portrait with your smiling handsome face will fir in at our gallery. I think a portrait is not fixed as it can chnage throught the day and through life.

the room above the garage Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 12:25am

HO, you rarely talk of feeling anything other that yourself. Today you show us a tiny glimpse of another part. You have always given me the impression that meditation has been your lifeline. Is it not always so? Are some days difficult to harness the mind, even when you are so practiced? I am day three into my renewed meditation regime and I find myself again able to post... I adore today's joke LOL!! I don't have a picture of you in my head...unsually. I tend to picture people. You are simply HO. And I too love charcoal. Love Leah's reply.

Leah Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 2:11am

RATG I would be interested in Hopeful one's reply too to your questions.

Mary Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 8:30am

I'm a painter, so I've painted a portrait of myself. It's rather serious and sombre, reflecting the depth of my feelings. People take me for someone very confident, which I am great at acting, but the reality is I'm quite deep, easily hurt and sensitive. I think my portrait reflects that.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 9:43am

Mary, Your serious and sombre painting is full of feeling and your sensitive nature shows through the painting.

the room above the garage Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 12:27am

I love the eyes you have painted. They have a story of their very own.

Orangeblossom Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 8:56am

Hi Leah, I love reading your blog which helped to uplift me. I am experiencing a very low period which is clearly reflected to my friends who see me as positive & generally cheerful & up-beat. This is mainly due to being in pain especially in my left leg. Also a feeling that I am turning into my Mum, an idea that I have always dreaded. My self-portrait will have me surrounded by those who have made a positive impact on my life. I really appreciate them as there has always brought the best out in me & then affirmed me.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 9:45am

Orangeblossom. I am sorry your are in pain and experiencing a ver low period. I like that your self portrait acknowledges those people who have helped you. It makes a fascinating portrait.

Ruth Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 5:22pm

I can very much empathise with you Orangeblossom both regarding being in pain a lot of the time with my back and leg and also starting to look and act like my mum, the latter being something I swore would never happen. Remember you are not your mum and neither am I mine. We are just us, with bad and good, some parts being the result of what was modelled to us as children and other parts being just how we naturally are. I wish you the best with feeling better.

Ruth Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 5:22pm

I can very much empathise with you Orangeblossom both regarding being in pain a lot of the time with my back and leg and also starting to look and act like my mum, the latter being something I swore would never happen. Remember you are not your mum and neither am I mine. We are just us, with bad and good, some parts being the result of what was modelled to us as children and other parts being just how we naturally are. I wish you the best with feeling better.

Jul Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 8:57am

Hello Leah. The exhibition sounds wonderful. What an intriguing blog. I cannot draw or paint but if an artist was drawing my portrait, I would want my face to look serene and dreamy with a far away look. Jul xx

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 9:47am

Jul, your portrait of a serene and dreamy face with far away look is very intriguing to look at. Thanks for comtributing your portrait.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 9:51am

Just a comment on what Jul said about not being able to draw or paint. I failed painting in kindergarten!! so I know what that is like. I suppose it is about trying to visualise how we may want others to see us.
We may want a tiny canvas, or a huge canvas. We may want to represent our moods in a different way or not feature them at all. Have fun be bold or timid!
I have plenty of empty walls to fill with your portraits so bring them in. I am waiting.

Jul Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 9:57am

I think I'd like a medium sized canvas as that's how I see myself, not larger than life but not timid either. Just an ordinary soul xxx

Debs Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 9:59am

Great blog Leah!! Really love it. I'm holding my first exhibition in October to raise funds for Mind so this feels timely to me. My exhibition partner said to me the other day 'can you pick out one of your works where the figure is hiding her face or looking sad?'

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:12am

Debs, Does that mean that most of your works are happy. Are there many portraits or are there more landscapes.the exhibition sounds wonderful Debs. Good to hear from you.

Debs Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:18am

Sorry! Premature send!! She wanted to capture the 'traditional face of depression/mental health' which I totally understand... But it's not how I look with depression. I can look bright, happy, funny, loving and very smiley; but inside I can be hurting, crying, beating myself up and feeling the very opposite of what I look like on the surface.

So I think my portrait would be the inside of me, the complex swirling mass of emotion and thought that typifies my anxiety and depression. An inside out portrait if you like ;-)

Thanks for making me think Leah - a very unique blog, just like all of us xxxxx

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:33am

Debs, most of the portraits of depression I have seen have been a stereotypic view.I think your portrait sounds very interesting.

Debs Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:18am

Sorry! Premature send!! She wanted to capture the 'traditional face of depression/mental health' which I totally understand... But it's not how I look with depression. I can look bright, happy, funny, loving and very smiley; but inside I can be hurting, crying, beating myself up and feeling the very opposite of what I look like on the surface.

So I think my portrait would be the inside of me, the complex swirling mass of emotion and thought that typifies my anxiety and depression. An inside out portrait if you like ;-)

Thanks for making me think Leah - a very unique blog, just like all of us xxxxx

Debs Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:19am

Oh dear!!! Reply meltdown ;-))) xxx

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:34am

Debs Moodscope can't get enough of your replies!!

Sally Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 11:05am

Your exhibition sound very interesting, Leah.
My self portrait would be of someone looking thoughtful, with a half smile. I hope the background would be relevant, perhaps depicting glimpses of the places I've been happy in. I would have the me as I am now, because I am content with how things have turned out. Most of the time.
I have suffered from depression for as long as I can remember, but with increasing age, it seems to lessen or at least be in abeyance.
The colours in my portrait would have to be bright, but not harsh, and the brush strokes veer to the abstract or impressionist style of painting, nothing too rigid or photographic.
The eyes would speak for themselves and express compassion. If nothing else,I think having had mental health problems does give you a truer feeling of compassion towards others.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 11:18am

Sally, Thanks for your painting which I feel many will relate to. Compssaionate eyes are always compelling. I feel that your portrait would convey peace and hope.

Shaun Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 11:10am

My painting is of me in van gogh style, feeling as misunderstood and lost as he. Haunted by the loss of my greatest love and greatest friend.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 11:19am

Shaun, I can see the haunting and loss in your painting.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 11:26am

PS I admire Van Gogh's style too. Have you seen a real Van Gogh up close?

Shaun Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 1:54pm

I have Leah, I've spent a lot of time exploring his life and paintings. When I was at school I played Vincent in the school play so have kind of felt an affinity with him and his work.

The Gardener Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 11:15am

Leah, you're a darling - what you ask in your blogs - Mr G at respite and I've been tearing round ACHIEVING things without the eternal call 'where are you'. You wouldn't think 'freedom' would be actually being able to complete the hoovering. Soul-destroying falling over half-done things all the time. Also ruminated on self-portrait. I have been subjected to lots of publicity, and I am not photogenic. I am asked to 'smile' HO obviously has a good one. I have very high, almost slavic cheekbones, if I smile my eyes disappear and I look like a pig. The portraits I love don't show the best of my character, because I was the centre of attention at the time. One was in Sicily - touring a major town we came upon a Roman washing place - lovely clear water. On a whim, I knelt down and washed Mr G's hanky. Goodness knows how many Pix were taken. Up in the mountains we came upon two Roman sarcophagi - like baths. Our guide (fantastically knowledgeable, charming and fun, gay) and I climbed in - a 'bath' each. I had an 'Out of Africa' hat. Loads of pix again. Then, after a glorious lunch in Greece everybody melted under umbrellas. Not me - there were lovely lizard-lounging rocks - I had, protesting, bought a beautiful swimsuit which actually held my 'bits' together. I have waist-length hair, which, after a dunk in the sea goes curly. So I laid on my rock with a book and the whole beach rushed to take a photo. Trouble is I've never been able to repeat those - but they're nice to have.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 11:24am

Gardener, what a lavely gallery of photos and portrqits you decsribe. I magine you sitting with your long curly hair like a mermaid on a rock with a book. I am glad you have respite and was moved by your comment yesterday. You endure so much , I am not sure I could be as patient as you. Keep on sharing your stories. xx

Eva Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 11:56am

Hi leah, I love this blog, and I love you for blogging it. I think I am going to go home and do a self portrait, I'm not sure what with yet, I think I'll just scrabble through my materials and see what I find. Funnily I found a single portrait that I did at school at the weekend, it's in graphite, just half of my face, I look very serious and quite penetrative. I'm guessing that's just from staring at the mirror ;) but also because being a teenager I was full of typical angst. I'm going to compare them when I am done. I'm not sure what's going to come out, I generally can't forsee how my drawings /paintings will turn out.

I think that an exhibition of portraits of people with mental health issues smiling and laughing would say so much to the world about what lurks below the surface, maybe we should organise something.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 12:34pm

Eva, I was thinking the same thing- what about doing this in real life. All the portraits would not have to be smiling but there would be a range of deoctions show the reality people live with. Let me know what your portrait looks like.

Skyblue Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 12:24pm

Hi Leah, I love your self portrait! I would make a sketch from my school picture taken at age 6. It's been a beacon for me. Arms folded and resting on desk, eyes steady, clear, peaceful and confident, light shining through. Sweet smile on the face with a hint of dimple. I've been working my way back to her. Almost there. xx

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 12:36pm

Skyblue, I like that you admire the 6 year old you with the clear peaceful confident eyes. Thanks for your reply.

Dolphin Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 12:39pm

Leah - thank you for such a marvellous idea. The portrait which came instantly to mind for me was a three-quarter view of myself sitting in a chair on my patio looking at the sea and reading. I imported the bougainvillea from upstairs to add colour. The colours of the rest of the picture were muted and peaceful.

It's made me think of what is important to me - peace and quiet and sea - and how often I allow myself the luxury of reading and quiet watching. From recent blogs, I know so many of us make ourselves busy busy busy. So, something to aspire to more often.

Then, the three-quarter view... As a girl, I saw myself as the invisible girl and again, it's something I've fought in my adulthood - not to be the invisible woman. But maybe I am being too quick at interpreting the three-quarter view in this way. Concentrate on what I wish for. Small pleasures.

Thanks so much for the inspiration xx

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 12:43pm

Dolphin Thanks so much for your detailed description of your portrait. I like the idea of looking at the sea and reading.

Wyvern Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 2:28pm

Hello... my picture would have to be one of those composites where a face is made up of lots of smaller pictures like a mosaic. Each smaller picture would contain an aspect of my life and the people and animals in it. There would be some dark patches, shadows representing the difficult aspects such as anxiety and depression, illness, grief and loss; and there would be light patches representing the positive aspects such as love, enjoyment, fulifillment, friendship, and so on. Only if you look closely would you see the details in each mosaic square.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:23pm

Wyvern, What a fascinating portrait but such a clever way to reveal a complex life. I like collages for that reason but a mosiac is probably even a better way to represent a life. Thank you so much for your portrait.

The Gardener Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 2:30pm

Re-reading the blog - my choice of 'self-portraits' are not just nice holiday 'snaps'. I like to think they are my REAL self, looking as good as I can manage - very extrovert and loving the company of others, intimates and strangers, and doing something a bit 'way out'

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:30pm

Gardener, I saw your self portraits as moments in time revealing more parts of the real you showing us your uniqueness. I never saw them as holiday snaps.

Mary Wednesday Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 5:12pm

What a brilliant idea Leah! Mine would be a small canvas, but the actual picture would spread out beyond the canvas onto the wall (not quite sure how that could be transported later, but never mind: as HO said above, a portrait can only capture a moment). This is because although I am only physically small, I feel that I am bigger inside than out.
I would like my portrait to be very representational with bright sunflowers making up my hair and lots of bright swirly colours on my face, and even spilling out. Books and butterflies and flowers and mythical creatures that take up the whole space but all on a dark blue grey background that at first you don't see, The dark background would have images of chains and swirling fog and deep holes. So that on top it is all bright and lovely and warm with glorious fun images, but all against the grim background.
Like The Gardener, I am not at all photogenic, and view my only beauty as being internal, so this Van Gogh-like representational stuff seems best. This is such a lovely exercise to do. Thank you.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:28pm

Mary Wednesday, What a wonderful contribution to our gallery. I like the idea of a picture spreading out beyond the canvas and am sure we can accommodate this. Thanks for thinking about this so much and providing us with so much detail. I love the books and butterflies and flowers and mythical creatures. The funny thing is I am not an artisitic person at all and see things in words not in visions but I was inspired but the exhibition and am so glad I inspired you too.

Duma Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 5:55pm

My self portrait would include my tiny tiger, Honey, sitting on my left shoulder (she won't sit on my right shoulder, which has a touch of osteoarthritis (due to fencing (sabre) and Kobijitsu (weapon karate)). They say animals are sensitive to pain and disease (or maybe my right shoulder just isn't as comfy).

Whatever expression my tiny love, my wee parrot cat, induced on my face would do.

I couldn't pose property, having a photographic memory and, as a result, a tendency to stare. As a consequence, the artist would have to work from a photograph.

I'm no artist, apart from a bit of writing, I'd take the photo though, does that still count?

Wonderful question Leah.

Cheers, Duma. x

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:33pm

Duma, Thanks for your wonderful contribution and your detailed explanation. I can see your cat perched on your shoulder. Many artists use photographs to help them with a portrait. Cheers, Leah

Ruth Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 7:31pm

In my portrait I'm 20. I'm looking far far away at a lake and my face is dreamy. My long dark hair is tied back with a scarf and I'm wearing a summery long cotton dress. My life is ahead of me and I look pretty, slim and elfin with a touch of wistfulness. I wish I could go back to me and tell myself how lovely I was and how silly I was to worry so. Gently.

Leah Tue, Aug 2nd 2016 @ 10:35pm

Ruth, Thanks for your portrait. I can see your dreamy face abd lovely girl with her life ahead of her. I trust you realise how lovely you were then are still are now.

the room above the garage Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 12:16am

Hello Leah, I so adore this blog. Art galleries are magical to me. When I was a teenager (and probably depressed and unaware of how so) I used to skive school and I'd end up in galleries. I live in a place with quite a few. They have an astounding ability to envelope me in security and make me feel wholly at peace. Perhaps its the silence. Perhaps its the acceptance that, under that roof, all things are considered and valid. Wonderful places. I read this blog at 6.13 this morning and I couldn't understand it (such is the insult of my current low). I read it now before I surrender for the day, and it is clear and joyful. I'll read through everyone's contributions tomorrow as I am fascinated to hear what the stories.

Me? I think I am a bit like you. A collage. Mixed media. Thank you much. Love ratg xxx.

Leah Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 2:16am

RATG, so pleased to see your name on a comment. Always cheers me up and I know you will make be think differently. I worry about you and you being so low but am glad you are posting and meditating. I have always liked museums and libraries and when travelling they are where I go. Galleries have intimidated me because I have no artistic talent or insight but now with age I am giving galleries another go especially contemporary ones. I have always visited classical and traditional art galleries.

Leah Wed, Aug 3rd 2016 @ 2:19am

Thank you everyone who has exhibited a self portrait.
The gallery has plenty of space for more pictures and I would love to read about and see more portraits.
I am sure this has been done before with mental health organisations but I may ask in my country if they would be interesting in doing such a project.

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