• Tory Voner

How to Approach Self-Portraiture

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

Now that I am truly getting to know myself, at almost 38 years old, it has been tingling in the back of my mind how I want to approach a self-portrait. I haven't done one of these since college, about 15 years ago now?? Eesh. I took a slight detour in life, knew I needed another career to support my true passion, living in New England (it's mad expensive.) The last four to five years I have more fully dove into painting for myself, and it feels as if I am finally aligning with my true inner self. That feels really good, I have to say. So this need to do a self-portrait, I think is because I want to do it as a reward for myself, for all of the hard work I have put into this passion.


Picasso is definitely someone I admire for his unique stylistic approach, and because he felt inspiration from African cultures, it became something different and all of its own. I do not admire him for not giving African Art credit, after he took a trip to the Trocadero museum, and he acknowledged that it changed his life, but he never said why. See this page for how African art influenced Picasso. We should all be giving credit where it is due, and supporting each other and make connections, educating each other along the way.

"Meditation with Chrysocolla," 18" x 18", SOLD

Ever since I created "Meditation with Chrysocolla," I have thought of how to go about a self-portrait, using this method. I basically became in tune with my Chrysocolla crystal, and when I observed all of the colors and textures from different angles, I translated that whole experience onto canvas. Then different shapes and colors just appeared as I let the brush do what it wanted, after a good meditation session with the crystal. I also always held it in my opposite hand, so I could feel its energy vibration. A woman's figure just started to appear in the shapes, and followed my intuition on where to go with it. I thought, how cool would this method be with a self portrait?


For the next part of my process, I knew I wanted to create a self portrait out of one of my favorite crystals, Labradorite. So before I dove into this project head-on (pun intended!), I wanted to create an abstract piece with Labradorite, to get a true feel of the colors and textures that naturally appear within. This crystal I purchased from @Piscesinorbitcrystals, and was so inspired by the colors and textures when it glimmered in the light. Labradorite is the stone of transformation, and since I know I have been going through many changes in my mental awareness of myself, I have been collecting more and more of these rainbow beauties. There are many healing benefits to carrying Labs, and I always find it helps me focus when I place these on my upper chakras when I am meditating, or just carrying them around. See all of the healing properties here.

Shades of Labradorite, 11" x 14", $300

I have an old painting kicking around that I really wanted to bring back to life, it was a figure painting, and I began transforming it into a self-portrait, since I wasn't happy with it. I did love how the background textures had a great amount of energy, so I used that as a starting off point. I also thought these textures mimicked the textures of the Labradorite, since I just did a painting study of it. So off to the races I went, starting with the loose placement of my face and how large I wanted it. I figured the larger I made it, the easier this was going to be for myself. Self-portraits are HARD. And the larger the brushstrokes are for me, the less caught up in the details I knew I would be. This is another reason my work keeps getting larger and larger over time.

Self-portrait progression

Every brushstroke I am slowly molding my own face out of this vision I had. It's definitely not a typical self-portrait, but that is what I am going for. Labradorite represents change and transformation, which I personally feel I have been going through myself, the past few years. This stone also protects against negativity, and I have been carrying it with me off and on when I am especially drawn towards it.


I started getting a migraine, when I added the spiked lines into my head, how ironic. I was tentative at first about doing this, but it just felt right. It feels symbolic to what my personal journey has been like. Everything from my past is very fragmented, and all of the pieces are only just coming together. I feel like I have been working very hard at building up my self-esteem and boundaries, which I never once in my young life understood what those even were. I felt stuck that entire time, and now feel like I finally am breaking through, to who I really am supposed to be. We all grow in our own ways, in our own time, and only share that with those energies we connect with. It also feels like the cobwebs are clearing in my mind, finally freeing that rainbow energy that I have been holding inside for way too long.


I dug out a few self-portraits I created in my college years, and it definitely feels like I have come a long way. I probably will do a "normal" self-portrait at some point soon, but this portrait I was pondering over for a few months before I started, so I knew I had to just dive in, and see where it led me. That is the exciting part of painting, you never know what you are going to end up with, even when you have a clear visual in your head. Taking your time with it, letting the piece speak to you emotionally, I find always brings out a much better outcome. And of course, I always love to push color as far as I am able, because this is truly what brings me great joy.



Self-portraits of mine from the early 2000's, while I was attending Umass Dartmouth (that's all I'll say! ;) )



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