My 5th Oil Painting – Intensity, A Self-Portrait (2007)

Click at your own risk!

I have a mixed feeling on this self-portrait oil painting and it is edging towards the borderline of disaster (click on thumbnail to view a larger image at your own risk). Perhaps I am not used to looking at my own image, having this somewhat intense guy who somewhat looks like me with a face larger than me staring back at me … it is sort of scary. When Cynthia returned from work and discovered my new oil painting, she couldn’t stop laughing. I reckon she knows my face better than I do (duh!) and she kept on asking how come this and how come that. I have to drag her into the bathroom and post “that look” to her. To demonstrate how I got “that look”, I positioned my shoulders 45 degrees relative to the mirror, I turned my head at a 30 degrees relative to my shoulders while my eyes looked straight ahead. Still, the questions of “how come” did not subside.

While the result could be disastrous, it was my intend to create a pair of eyes that captivate attention, lips that are redder than normal for contrast, and an overall texture of ruggedness. For that, I think I have achieved what I wanted. Hopefully my next self-portrait will be better.

To paint this self-portrait image, I have to turn my tiny bathroom into a painting studio because that is the only place in my home that has a huge mirror with 3 spot lights over my head. The easel was mounted right on top of the closed toilet bowl with a jar of turpentine to wash my brushes resting on top of the bowl’s lid. The paint tubes were lined up carefully along the side of the bathtub. The smell of the oils can be overwhelming at times because there was hardly any air circulation inside.

An excerpt of our conversation after Cynthia saw the painting.

Me: So, what do you think of this self-portrait?
Cyn: Erm …
Me: (looking at Cyn with anticipation)
Cyn: Well, the painting looks intense.
Me: Shall we frame this one then?
Cyn: Hmmm … how come you are not smiling?
Me: I can’t.
Cyn: You can’t?
Me: No, I can’t keep smiling for 3 hours. Besides it looks insane to smile at the mirror while painting.
Cyn: Hmmm … perhaps we can hang it somewhere that we don’t get to see first thing in the morning?
Me: …

Looking back, I don’t think I want to hang this painting in the bedroom either. Last night before I retired to bedroom, I dimmed the light, looking at that pair of eyes staring at me sort of freaked me out.

Click here for my oil painting “gallery”.


  1. To Sing Chyun – You are kidding right? I will be more than happy to post “that look” in real life to you the next time we meet for lunch! ๐Ÿ™‚

    To G – I would love to! Just wondering if cats do tend to stay in one place for hours or do they tend to move around like dogs? I bet your cat is allergic to the smell of oils … ha ha ha.

  2. From Sing Chyun: “Hey, perhaps you can post a photograph of yourself spotting โ€œthat lookโ€? ”

    Reminds me of Zoolander.. Do you have a name to “that look”?

  3. Zoolander has names to his “looks”?! If I am to name “that look”, that would be a-friendly-look-of-high-concentration. There you go!

  4. Wow… I must not have seen you for ages. You look darker and skinnier and those lips can possibly fight with Angelina Jolie for the most luscious lips… good work there. Now for the Titantic – Leonardo Di Carprio-draw-Kate Winslet thing.

  5. Ha ha ha … funny comments you have, Mark. I know you have been talking about this Titanic painting scene (and not the original intend for my painting adventure for the record!). If I have the look and the charm of Leonardo Di Carprio, I think my current situation would have been a whole lot different! If I do encounter the Caprio-draw-Kate Winslet thing, you will be the first to know.

  6. It may not have the most accurate proportions…. but art is sometimes abstract…. so yours would be abstract art lor! keke…

  7. That is what I was thinking … it is probably leaning towards abstract art than a real portrait. Though I must say that it was certainly not my original intend!

  8. OMG, this is cool…it doesn’t matter if you didn’t smile. You have the look of confidence and simplicity that surpass all else, and I feel there is a tint of abstractness.

  9. hi, i stumbled across your painting while researching oil paintings. i totally understand and relate to everything you said. i had to do a self portrait for class, and i got the exact same “why arent you smiling” question from everyone in the family. i dont know what you look like, but the painting shows promise. keep it up!

  10. Kayla – You do oil painting too? I have not been actively painting these days. Perhaps I shall put more time into this hobby of mine. Thanks for your encouragement! I think I look a lot better …

    … on canvas!

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