Faces Ink and watercolor wash Oil Painting Painting People Self Portrait Sketchbook Pages

End of Journal Self Portraits

Self Portrait, Oil on panel, 6x6"
Self Portrait, Oil on panel, 6×6″

I wasn’t satisfied with the two ink and watercolor end-of-journal self-portraits (below) that completed the 8×10″ Moleskine I was working in back in June. Rose Frantzen had told me during my workshop with her that I had wonderful skin to paint and should be doing lots of self-portraits from life in oil. So I decided to give it a try.

I only had couple of hours left in the day for painting so chose a small 6×6″ panel that already had a dark background from wiping off a previous failed painting. I turned off most of the lights in the studio except for one pointing at my face from the left and one overhead light behind me. I clamped a mirror to the easel and started painting. What a surprise: after a couple of hours I’d made my most favorite self-portrait ever.

I know it’s not perfect but I don’t think it calls for perfecting; it’s just a moment in time and a record of a very enjoyable but short painting session.

Below are the two in my sketchbook. I was in a really grumpy mood and struggling with the drawing on the first one and it shows (below):

Grumpy Strained Self-Portrait, ink & watercolor, 10x8"
Grumpy Strained Self-Portrait, ink & watercolor, 10×8″

A few days later I tried again:

Self-Portrait with Birthday Bouquet
Self-Portrait with Birthday Bouquet, ink & watercolor, 10×8″

I was in a much better mood. I put my birthday bouquet on the table between me and the mirror and started drawing. It was confusing trying to combine what was real and what was mirror image. It’s a dorky drawing of me but I like the flowers.

Isn’t it amazing how emotions and mood show in a drawing or painting? It’s like there are two different people in these two sketches: mean, tense, bossy-lady and sweet, flowery, dorky girl.

10 replies on “End of Journal Self Portraits”

The oil portrait is lovely and very soulful. You have captured such a compelling emotion. The color and light are perfect. It’s more of a portrait of a universal theme, there’s worry and acceptance in the expression. I love your sketchbook ones, too. The grumpy one is wonderful, it reminds me of a teacher I once had, or myself when I’m grumpy. All of these express a lot and show your versatility. Beauty has many different faces.


Thanks Erin. Me too, especially since I’d had trouble painting the flowers before but they just kind of popped out of my brush on this try. Maybe because I wasn’t even worried about the flowers, just the portrait. Jana


Jana this portrait is wonderful, I really love this one. I’ve never wanted to do a self portrait but you make me want to. You’ve done a beautiful job. I’m so glad you took Rose’s suggestion and painted your portrait in oil. I can’t believe its only 6″ x 6″. Beautiful, beautiful … beautiful. When and if you decide to paint another will you share some step-by-step shots? I love this Jana…. you did a great job.

Blessings … Nancy


Thanks Nancy, Sure, I’ll try to share some step by step next time. It’s hard to remember to take photos as I work–when I get into the zone as I was in this one I forget everything else. Jana


Wonderful portrait Jana! I like the sketches, but your portrait is at once universal and specifically you.


Thanks Sonia. I’m glad you can see me in it. I dont’ worry as much about capturing a likeness as I do an essence. Jana

Sketchblog: Website: UrbanSketchers-BayArea,


Thanks Nel! And yes, I will do more….eventually. I hope you’re well and enjoying life and painting! Jana

Sketchblog: Website: UrbanSketchers-BayArea,


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