— My self-portraits are most often done when a scheduled sitter has canceled our sitting at the last moment. If I have a strong urge to work and can find no one ready to sit at short notice, I sometimes set up a mirror and paint myself.
The portrait with the white ground was painted on unprepared paper and the other on paper prepared with a dark purple ground of acrylic paint. Though the style of both paintings is similar, the experience of doing each was very different. For the first, I used the white ground of the raw paper for the shirt and the facial highlights. For the second, I mixed opaque white paint with various colors for the hair and to build up the facial highlights.
The two approaches are very different. Using the isolated patches of unpainted paper surface to create the highlights of the first, for the other I painted over the purple ground with ever heavier layers of opaque white paint mixed with color to achieve the flesh tones and highlights.
Painting pictures of myself is for me a hollow experience, since what I enjoy most in my sittings is my sense of identification with my sitter, of getting immersed in the exploration of another personality. By comparison, the experience of identifying with my mirror image seems somewhat redundant, like an impersonation of an impersonation.
October 27, 2009
Donald Jess Bachardy is an American portrait artist. Born 1934 in Los Angeles, California. He currently resides in Santa Monica, California.