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My annual self-portrait

Every year, Jason Sacran paints a self–portrait. Here he demonstrates how he painted his latest composition, describing it as a much more personal painting than some of his earlier ones
Self Portrait at 37, oil on canvas, 26x20in (10x71⁄2cm)

Each year I do a self-portrait. Some are just quick, onesession studies; others are more conceptual pieces, introspective and full of ideas and thought. Falling into that category is Self-Portrait at 37 (left). My positioning in the portrait is one that I thought carefully about: being a little slumped gives the indication of being weary. My expression is one of honesty. Although not a 100-per-cent likeness, I believe I captured myself better than in any other of my self-portraits to date. It is the emotions that come to the surface of the face that make it for me. There is almost a blankness to my expression which, I suppose, comes from deep concentration.


This is the first self-portrait I have done without some type of facial hair, so I exaggerated features such as my upper lip and gave myself a slight double chin. In past self-portraits I would sometimes take off my hat but I thought it would go well in the painting, so I kept it on. I chose the sweater because I thought it looked interesting with its textures and colour; I played around with the set-up for days until I came up with the base idea of a double portrait using two mirrors.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our June issue with plenty to inspire artists in all media. Watercolourists will love Amanda Hyatt's Five Steps to Watercolour technique with a 10-minute exercise to try, Ann Blockley's invitation to let go of reality and get creative with the medium, Jean Haines' advice on how to paint white flowers, while Julie Collins shows how adding ink can create definition and impact. For inspiration for oil painters don't miss cover artist Jason Sacran's step-by-step self-portrait, Patrick Cullen's article on painting in India and Paul Brown's advice on using just six colours to paint a landscape. For acrylic painters we have Michael Kidd talking about his stylised acrylic compositions, Jo Quigley's demonstration on how to paint successful reflections in acrylics and Marie Antoniou on how to transform a dull photo into an interesting painting, while Barry Herniman demonstrates the versatility of the under-used medium of gouache. With all this and much more, why not try a new medium or technique in the coming weeks under the guidance of our fantastic contributing artists!