Whenever I work on a portrait, I start by making a drawing study, either from life or from a photo. It is not advisable to paint directly from the subject’s photograph, as you may end up manually reproducing a picture originally taken by a camera. I appreciate the compliments some people give me when they say “Wow, your painting looks like a photo!”, yet photographs are hardly a truthful depiction of reality. What they really mean is that, in their opinion, I have convincingly created an image that looks so real that is hard to believe it was drawn or painted. Aside from the fact that the human eye is capable of perceiving subtle gradations of tone and value of which the camera is incapable, there is that awful fisheye lens effect that distort contours and proportions. Most people don’t realize it, but selfies are the most frequent pictures that are affected by this type of image distortion. So, it is important for the portrait artist to employ constructive methods of drawing and knowledge of anatomy to represent a face in a more truthful fashion.
In this self-portrait, I’m working in an “early” expressionist style, considering that I have a particular admiration for Edvard Munch. It is not an imitation of his manner, though, rather a similar sensation that somehow gets our individual manners connected across a century within a similar painting style.
Today, technology has made available to artists a large collection of virtual photo effects that imitate painting and graphic styles. I am including a small sample of effects from BeFunky and Topaz Labs.