The Self Portrait- History and Inspiration from the Art Shed Team

Author: Dana McGorlick-Appelman  Date Posted:19 April 2021 

Self-portraits are a popular subject matter steeped in history, that allows oneself to both express and explore personal identity.

Our team have been super busy creating a beautiful collection of self-portraits. Each portrait is as unique as its creator, made with mediums ranging from graphite, to acrylic, oils, inks and even enamel and studs.

Self-portraiture is a perfect subject for both beginners and seasoned artists alike, and makes a great introductory subject for kids to explore their own identity.


History of the self-portrait

Portraiture dates back over 5000 years to ancient Egypt, and has since evolved over the years from expensive paid commissions that signified wealth, beauty and status, to both the flattering and abstract recordings of the artist’s muse.

Many renowned artists have used themselves as their subjects, including Cindy Sherman, Robert Mapplethorpe, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Rembrandt, Picasso, among more.

Today, Portraiture continues to be a dominant artistic subject. Some even argue the modern ‘selfie’ is an art form in itself.



You do not have to limit your artistic imagination or medium when creating self-portraits. Self-portraits can vary from hyper-realism to highly conceptual (see Jessie and Blakes artworks below for inspiration). They can be made with paint, sculpture, sketching, photography and more. The results are infinite, and a rendition can be as revealing and truthful or perplexing as desired.

Allow yourself to experiment with scale, colour, texture, materials, along with background subjects, poses and application.

If you’re stuck on what to create for your own self-portrait, a good place to start is in acrylic painting. For this you will need:

A Canvas

Acrylic Paints

Brushes (synthetic) or Palette Knives

An Easel

For how to create your own self-portrait using acrylics, check out our other blog post here: How to paint a portrait in acrylics

Need Self Portrait Inspiration? Take a look at these portraits created by the Art Shed Team


Acrylic paint, and graphite on cartridge paper and wooden panel