Start the Year with a Self-Portrait Assemblage or Collage

I'm not much for New Year's resolutions, but I do like to take stock this time of year.

Who am I? Where am I going? Am I on the right path? What do I want to do more of in the coming months, and what should I let go of to make room for that?

self-portrait assemblage
My self-portrait assemblage reflects my love of
vintage objects, fibers, and writing. I'm also partial
to the blue-red-cream color scheme.

I usually do this self-assessment on a legal pad or in a journal. But I've been thinking that this exercise could easily serve as a prompt for a self-portrait. Rendering a self-assessment as a physical piece of art (rather than a list on a page) would also make it easier to remember and be inspired by my appraisal.

This piece of art can take any form you want: collage, assemblage, book, art doll, art journal, or a combination.

A self-portrait needn't be a literal rendering of your features as I explained in my first book, Mixed-Media Self-Portraits: Inspiration and Techniques.

self portrait art doll assemblage
Kelly Nina Perkins combined doll making with journaling to create her self-portrait dolls for Mixed-Media Self-Portraits.

Begin with your self-assessment. Jot down words or doodled pictures that describe you right now, your characteristics (funny, colorful, pensive), functions (artist, engineer, domestic diva, etc.), tasks and activities (cooking, running, sketching, driving), and so on.

Make another list or doodle of anything you'd like to have more of in your life (color, quiet time, art sales, etc.)

Collect visual representations. Look at your lists/doodles and start collecting things represent who you are, what you do, and/or what you'd like to strive for. For "artist" you might grab a paint brush or crayon; "mother" might make you reach for hearts or a nest.

If you're looking for more energy in your life, you might search for some orange fabric. If you want to write more, pick up a fancy pen or text from a book. Quiet or alone time could be represented by a shell.

You can cut pictures from a magazine, cull found objects from around your house or studio, draw pictures yourself, or combine these visual representations. Either way, don't spend a lot of time choosing any one thing: let your instincts guide you.

Note: You may want to do this exercise separately for each part of your life, such as one self-assessment/self-portrait for your art life and another for your personal life.

self portrait assemblage
Self-portrait assemblage by Kimberly Gibson, 
featured in the January/February 2012 issue
of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine.

Create your self-portrait. Take a look at what you've gathered. First, ask yourself which objectsand images most represent you and the life you lead or would like to lead. What really speaks to you. Edit your assembled stash, if necessary. Next ask yourself if the materials lend themselves more to collage, assemblage sculpture, or mixed-media assemblage? Maybe you would like to combine words with art, and an art journal or book would be a better choice. This self-portrait is for you, so choose whatever you would enjoy doing most. Collect your art supplies and start putting your self-portrait together.

When you're done, hang it on the wall or set it on a conspicuous shelf for everyday inspiration and self-awareness. And don't hesitate to change it or add to it as the weeks go by. You and your art are not static!

There are many more ideas and techniques for creating self-portraits in Mixed-Media Self-Portraits.

P.S. Have you ever made a self-portrait? What did you learn about yourself in the process? Leave a comment below.


3D Art and Assemblage, Blog, Collage, Mixed-Media Techniques


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