Self-portrait with Athene II

Self-portrait with Athene II

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This is my latest self-portrait (with Athene, my stuffed Tawny owl). It took me approx. 20 hours over February and March.

As with my previous ‘Self-portrait with Athene’, I am standing with Athene, my protective talisman. I am also holding one of her feathers. The inspiration for this portrait started with the black and white photograph of Patti Smith holding the single white feather (I mention this photograph in a previous post: (see the photo here). I suppose this is quite a defiant self-portrait, a kind of ‘warts and all’ or ‘tattoos and all’; this is me, bare. I have been through allot in the past year, what with the cycling accident last May and subsequent surgeries. I came out the other end, still on the mend, but I am here and I feel protected.

I always start with the eyes. The left first and then I measure every part of the face and body from that point. I always work in this way, even with portraits of others.

The drawing has many processes (I love processes). Starting with an outline to ensure the measurements are correct, before any shading begins (measure twice, cut once, so to speak, but in my case, measure twice, draw once!).

Once I had the main outline, I then started to tackle the tattoos which wrap around the contours of the body. What strikes me is how much detail there is. Yan Spencer, my tattooist and dear friend, is the true artist. He created these wonderful pieces in his head and then made them into beautiful art. He is the one with the imagination, I am simply copying what I see before me.

After the drawings of the tattoos, I fix the picture, before adding the watercolour. I then fix again, before adding the final shading details (hair etc.), so as to not interfere with the outlines.

I took some photos of work in progress, to show the progression of the drawing as explained above:

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Find out about Holy Cow Tattoos here:

Holy Cow Tattoos

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