The Bald-Faced Truth About Self-Portraits — Photographs and All!

“What deflates your self-image gets inflated with the brush.”

Cherie Roe DirksenI had an idea for a painting — something that combined my love of painting swirly whirly gold backgrounds and the cosmos.  I wanted to show the macrocosm being reflected in the microcosm. I needed to paint a person because I wanted that famous nebulae, ‘The Eye of God’, to be reflected in a human eye.

After thinking long and hard, I decided to fling myself into the fateful venture of doing a self-portrait…yikes!

The photo you see on the right is the ‘pose’ I wanted to portray — that ‘devil-may-care’/’caught-up-in-the-moment’ type look.  It was actually quite a hoot, in itself, to get the photo right but that’s another story.

The Self-Perception Abyss

For any artist out there who has ever embarked on a self portrait you’ll know all about the conflicts of the inner image that emerges like a festering pustule onto that innocent blank canvas.

“I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject, rather does the person grow to look like his portrait.” — Salvador Dali 

For those of you who don’t know what the hell I’m banging on about, it’s like this:  When you paint/draw yourself, you tend to subliminally extract or expound on your less desirable traits.  What deflates your self-image gets inflated with the brush.

Noses and Penises (I’ve always wanted to write that subheading!)

NosesEarly on in the game, Mike walked into my studio whilst I was busy — he stopped and looked long and hard at my work of art.  I thought it was getting on nicely.  He then turned to me and said, ‘You look like a man.’

Was it true?  Was my penis envy that transparent?

He went on, ‘For a start, your nose is way too big.’  I thought my nose was perfectly in order!  I have quite a big noggin and that is how I saw myself.  Mike assured me that I had a slightly distorted perception of my honker and I went back to the drawing board.

The Good, The Bad and the Darn Right Ugly!

You’re going to have a good laugh as I unveil the painting progress photographs and how many times I had to repaint my face as my husband constantly pointed out my somewhat warped sense of self.

MouthHowever, after the painting was finished I realized I had, by the end of the process, accepted who I was — imperfections and all!  I came to grips with all those idiosyncrasies that I thought were flaws and turned them into unique attributes.

My small mouth (of course, I’ve always lusted after those luscious lips of Angelina Jolie) didn’t seem so undesirable after all.  My ‘Roman’ nose (as was pointed out and made fun of constantly as a child) was full of character instead of an ugly blob on the landscape of my face.

“A portrait is a painting with something wrong with the mouth.” — John Singer Sargent

This painting turned out to be my self-image therapy.

The Painting Process Photograph Diary

Well, enough of me banging on about the painting…let me rather show you what transpired:


The beginning stage is set and the canvas is painted black…2

In chalk, I outline the ‘Eye of God’ nebula and my frame…


The ‘Eye of God’ get’s its colour…now it’s time to fill in that gold pattern:4


With the pattern all done, it’s time to work on my least favourite part — skin tone!


I love this photo, it’s SO creepy!  Tip:  Never walk in on an artist who is doing their first layer of skin tone…it’s the stuff nightmares are made of…lol.


A long way to go!


This is the part where Mike steps in to have a peek and goes all ‘quiet’ 😉

9As you can see, I’ve made a slight boo-boo with my hair (should’ve given myself more volume, damn it!).  Not a big problem but it just means that all that pattern will be covered.


Enter the Blonde hair colouring but yikes, that doesn’t look quite right, does it?!


This is where I began to notice that the painting is taking a bit of a ‘David Bowie’ turn (subliminal programming?  I’ve always LURVED his look!)…he he.  In fact, from profile, we share a very similar nose.

After much shuffling and retouching of eyes, nose and mouth, I decided to call it quits.

Finally, the end closed in and I put the paintbrushes down.  It may not be perfect but I achieved the result I was after.  I wanted the ‘Eye of God’ to be reflected in the eye of the model.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” — Genesis 1:27

Please see below this picture for a detailed description of the inspiration behind this piece.

Prints available – click on picture

Title: ‘As Within So Without’

Artist:  Cherie Roe Dirksen

Medium:  Acrylic on Stretched Canvas

Size: 610mm x 930mm (24″ x 36″)

Painting Description:

I wanted this piece to entice one to look deeper into the meaning of being at one with the universe as that famous Vedic/Hermetic saying goes, ‘as above so below, as within so without’.

The background of sacred geometrical shapes denotes the energy in the ether that we work with subconsciously all of the time— even dark matter contains cosmic energy.

The rent in the energetic field that exudes the ‘Eye of God’ (which is a famous nebula in space that resembles an eye) that matches the eyes of the human — an indication that we are made of stars, we are holding fragments of the divine inside ourselves and we are inextricably woven with the universe.

Eyes are always referred poetically as the windows to the soul but the truth is that when we compare various nebulae to our irises, the striking resemblance is remarkable.

Every macrocosm reflects the microcosm.  Every principle in our universe works with a circular centrifugal theory/force — we have planets orbiting suns, we are made up of cells that contain protons and neutrons orbiting a nucleus, etc.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are all one with each other and everything else.  This is my message for this painting.

The original is available through SAATCHI ONLINE HERE

Other articles you may enjoy:

Never-Before-Seen Photographs of How I Paint my Patterned Poppies

A Look Behind the Scenes — Painting an Abstract Landscape

Art In The Making — A Step-by-Step Guide on Painting Landscapes

How To Branch Out — Painting Scenes With Trees

Painting a Zebra From Scratch

The 12 Hour Saatchi Art Competition Challenge — Start to Finish

‘Dancing in the Void’ — Pink Floyd Rock Art Painting No.4 Photographs

How to Artfully Get into Your Element

Rock Art Series Painting no. 3 — Jeff Buckley ‘Raw’

What The Beatles Look Like From the End of my Paintbrush

Can Using Yellow in Art Enhance Your Mood?

Art Commissions — The Soulworks Project (Part 3)…Painting the Picture

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5 thoughts on “The Bald-Faced Truth About Self-Portraits — Photographs and All!

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