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Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait and Journal Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 16th, 2020

It seems to me that this painting will probably be one of my best self-portraits. Admittedly, I have already created many images of myself (Sayre, 2011). Some people do not understand why I take so much interest in this type of paintings. Many of them may even believe that this interest is a sign of selfishness or narcissism; however, they misinterpret my motives. On the whole, I am firmly convinced that that such pictures can offer an excellent “outlet for feelings” and emotions of an artist (Hirsch, 2012, p. 388). This freedom is not always available to me when I paint the portraits of other people who usually want to be depicted in a dignified and idealized manner (Hirsch, 2012, p. 388; Durham, 2004).

This is one of the barriers that I find very difficult to overcome. To some degree, creative freedom is probably my major motive for starting this artwork. It seems to me that this portrait will be of great interest to people who will study my works in the future. Certainly, I may look like a well-worn old man who has already been tired of the worldly life, but I think that this openness and integrity can actually appeal to many viewers. Additionally, I believe that this work will illustrate some of my best techniques that I acquired during my lifetime. Some of them are quite innovative, and they are really worth displaying. These are the main goals that are of the greatest priority to me.

Overall, I will use predominantly dark colors because they can better reflect my current mood. In particular, this painting will be dominated by various shades of grey and brown. Moreover, I will minimize the role of the background because this aspect of the composition should not play an important role for portraitists. In my view, they should pay more attention to the emotions of an individual and his/her feelings (Durham, 2004).

Moreover, I will strongly rely on such a technique as impasto (Hirsch, 2012). In particular, I will lay paint on the canvas in very thick layers. In my opinion, this approach is much more suitable for depicting the texture of a person’s skin. As far as I know, very few artists are able to apply paint in such a way, especially when depicting the face of an individual. So, this self-portrait can be a great example of my artistic mastery. This is one of the main points that can be made. Additionally, I will certainly use such a method as chiaroscuro or the sharp contrast between light and dark. This method was often of great use to me, especially when I was working on The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (Hirsch, 2012).

Yet, this technique can also be of great value to a portraitist. In this case, it will help me to highlight my facial expression (Hirsch, 2012). This picture can be called Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar. It should be noted that I will wear a beret, and it will better frame my face. This is one of the reasons why I would like to include this article of clothing. To some degree, these artistic choices are rather minimalistic. In many cases, portraitists focus on such aspects as clothing or interior design. However, I think that in the majority of cases, these details are actually superfluous. In most cases, they only divert the attention of viewers who should sense the emotions of a person. These are my main considerations.

If I am able to meet the standards that I stand for myself, this portrait can be one of my major works. I cannot tell if it will be a magnum opus, but it will definitely stand out among other paintings. To some degree, it will show that as an artist, I can depict the appearance of an individual and his/her emotions. From my viewpoint, a portrait should give a glimpse into a person’s inner world. This is one of the main goals that I will always try to achieve. Additionally, this self-portrait should demonstrate that I am not trying to depict myself in an idealized way.

More likely, this artwork should reveal that I can combine technical mastery with integrity which is a critical component of true art. In my opinion, the combination of these qualities is rather rate even among distinguished artists. This is one of the issues that I can identify. Hopefully, this picture will not go unnoticed by the future generations, and this is the probably the only consolation that I currently have. Admittedly, I have created a great number of paintings that are worth attention. Nevertheless, this picture will be an important part of my legacy.

To a great extent, this picture can be compared to other paintings that I have already created. To some degree, they are similar in terms of subject and theme. In this case, I do not want to speak only about my previous self-portraits since there are other artworks that should also be considered. At first, I would like to mention that such a painting as Aristotle with a Bust of Homer. It depicts a prominent thinker who faced success, recognition, as well as disappointments (Hirsch, 2012).

Overall, this experience is certainly familiar to me, especially at this stage of my life. At this point, I know that old age eventually deprives me of my strengths, and I tend to identify myself with such people as Aristotle. Moreover, I can certainly mention such a picture as Philosopher in Meditation since this painting depicts a person who ponders over the meaning of life. Furthermore, I would like to speak about the picture called An Old Man in Red (Durham, 2004). To a great extent, these paintings are united by the common themes, namely old age and reflection on the meaning of life, its successes and failures. These are the main issues that often come to my mind. It seems to me that this self-portrait should throw light on these themes. I can tell that, this objective is also of great importance to me.

On the whole, this self-portrait should demonstrate that as an individual, I enjoyed fame and recognition, but at the same time, I also encountered misfortunes or hardships. Moreover, it should show that I can combine the use of sophisticated technique with relative simplicity and openness. Hopefully, this work can produce a strong impression on the viewers who may live long after me. I understand that art can evolve dramatically in the future; yet, I think that this painting will not become obsolete. These are the main issues that I currently reflect upon.

Reference List

Durham, J. (2004). The Biblical Rembrandt: Human Painter in a Landscape of Faith. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press. Web.

Hirsch, R. (2012). Light and Lens: Photography in the Digital Age. New York, NY: CRC Press. Web.

Sayre, H. (2011). The humanities: Culture, Continuity, and Change: Volume 1. New York, NY: Pearson. Web.

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