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Self portrait path to self-love

Does it always seem like there isn’t enough hours in a day? Do you have a never ending to do list which makes you loathe adulting? If it’s been a while since you did something nice for yourself, it’s time to prioritise some self-love!

Self-love influences everything from who you date, to how you are perceived at work, to how well you cope with stress. Time for yourself is beneficial to your mental health, so carve out some time in your day or week to give some time, attention, and affection to the most important person – you.

Indulge in some serious self-care and get to know yourself even better with a self-portrait painting. A self-portrait is a great way to explore how you see and feel about yourself. It's not about creating a realistic image of yourself. Pablo Picasso (The Father of Abstract Art) created many self-portraits of himself. He shows his emotions in raw form as he stares out at the viewer. He took a cubist approach which exaggerated his features and made the painting or drawing more emotional.

Before starting the self-portrait choose a self-love mantra you can say to yourself over and over during the painting. A few ideas:

· I am enough.

· I am worthy of love.

Here’s how to create a self-love abstract portrait

Step 1: Face yourself & make peace with your insecurities

Use black or blue watered down acrylic paint to paint your head (any shape will work), and add your facial features – eyes, nose, lips, etc. You can use a mirror or paint from your imagination. Keep your outline simple.

It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake as this is just a rough guide and the paint layers will hide it. During this step acknowledge your insecurities and forgive yourself for having them.

Step 2: Fill in the background – flaws & all

Roughly paint in the background area around your outline (emphasis on the rough, as a reminder that perfection doesn’t exist). Use a large flat brush and watered-down acrylic paint of your choice. At this stage it will look a lot like a watercolour painting.

Pick three colours that reflect your personality or current mood. This step is all about accepting your “flaws” and appreciating what makes you unique and beautiful.

Step 3: Contour and highlight - focus on what matters

Look carefully at your mirror or picture and notice the light and dark areas of your face. This will help you to see the structure of the face. (e.g., The area around the eyes and under the chin are usually darker, and features that stick out like the forehead, cheekbones and chin are usually lighter).

Paint in the light and dark areas. Try and paint these areas as simple shapes. Use watered-down paint and a flat brush. Don't be afraid to mix your colours to create a range of light and dark tones.

This is the best time to think about what is important to you in general, but also bring it out in your painting. If there’s a feature you love - make it stand out! By the end of this step, you will learn that your self-worth is not attached to the way you look.

Step 4: Build up your layers and go abstract!

Now use your paint without watering it down and make your painting more abstract. You can do this by looking at your face from different angles. How does this affect what you see? Add the new shapes of the features that you now see to your painting.

From the last step you should now know what is important to you; now think about how you can support what’s important to you.

Step 5: Finishing touches

Paint into the background of your painting using thicker paint. Stand back and look for any patterns within your painting. In the example below, you can see roses were added to represent hair. Are there any themes that you can come away with? Did you learn something new about yourself?

It’s important to remember self-love isn’t about loving everything about yourself all the time. It’s about not allowing the negative thoughts to consume us. Every time you find yourself in a pattern of negative thought, ask yourself “would I say this to a loved one or even a stranger?” if the answer is “no”, why would you say it to yourself?

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