Some of Crystal Cook's Favorite Self-Portraits

Crystal Cook has sent in some of her favorite self-portraits, and has some thoughtful comments about each of them:
The first of mine, well, I'm not sure I can say it is a favorite work of art of mine, as in I would not want it in my home and I find it a little scary and definitely unsettling, but is a piece that I feel is absolutely emotionally compelling, is this self portrait of Jenny Saville: 
Jenny Saville Reverse 2003
Every time I look at it I am blown away with the power of this piece, not so much because of what some people say, that she is exploiting the macabre, going for the shock value. Although it is shocking and macabre, that is not what I find so compelling about it. What I find so compelling is that the feeling I get when looking at it is overwhelmingly pity and compassion. I want to help her. I feel sorry for her pain and suffering, deeply. 
The second of my favorites is this one by Holly Bedrosian:
Holly Bedrosian Second Cup 24"x18" colored pencil
I like this piece because of her expression, very direct and confident, but there is also a feeling of vulnerability in her eyes, and her tentative smile. I also really like the elegant grip on her mug. And technically I think this is a great piece because of it's size 24" x 18" and that it's colored pencil. 
And last of all, and my very favorite is this piece by Mary Whyte:

Mary Whyte Mid Breeze 21"x28" watercolor  
Mary Whyte is my personal hero and the greatest living watercolor portrait artist there is. Her technical skills of watercolor, especially her lost and found edges and the way she creates movement is amazing. But once again it's her expression, very straightforward and direct, and warm and compelling.
Thank you Crystal Cook!

Have some favorite self-portraits by other artists you'd like to share? Please email your suggestion (not your own work please) with a few words to describe why you like it. Be sure to include the title, medium, size and year.


  1. It is still shocking to me to see Jenny's painting when I opened your blog. Such a powerful piece. Thanks for including my picks Taryn. :)

  2. Mary Whyte is my all time favorite-she is my pick!

  3. These are great. But I am especially drawn to the self-portrait of Jenny Saville. I mean, it's disturbing but the paint application and values are incredible! Off to look her up!


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