Art, Life, Portraiture, Self portrait, Sketching, Study

Completion of Birthday Self Portrait project


Self Portrait at age 23
Self Portrait at age 23 – 1976


I’ve explained this a couple of times before on the blog. When I was in college I was given an assignment to do a self portrait and was then given information on the aging process and told to do another self portrait projecting what I thought I would look like at the age of 60. I was 23 when I did the first two drawings. I forgot about them for several years but some time in my 30’s I decided it would be interesting to do a similar self portrait every year near my birthday to see how close my vision was. I had planned on doing it every year and to use the same pose and media, etc so that the drawings could be easily compared. Discipline is not my strongest characteristic and I missed some years and got bored and did other compositions some years but I did produce an interesting collection of images over the 37 years since the original drawings.

This being the year I turned 60 is the logical completion of the project and, although I may still do self portraits on my birthday, the original project ends now. My wife’s health began to collapse this  year, not long after my birthday and it’s taken me this much time to get back to thinking about it. Frankly, it’s been difficult to produce any artwork, since her death and this seemed like a fun and simple thing to do to keep my hand in and, of course, to feed the blog.




So it appears that, at the age of 23, I had an exaggerated view of how old 60 is. Perhaps in 1976, 60 year old people did look older than they do today. They say 60 is the new 40, right?

You can find other entries in this progression in the archives of the blog. I posted them as I did them.

I apologize for the quality of the photos. The original two drawings were reproduced from old slides.

5 thoughts on “Completion of Birthday Self Portrait project”

  1. These are wonderful, all three of them. It is fascinating that we thought 60 looked like 80 once upon a time. (What I’m waiting to hear is that 80 is the new 20; anything else is just a misunderstanding.) I’m glad you’re feeding the blog. The blog must eat. Speaking of which, why don’t you and K come for dinner on the river deck (and maybe a boat ride) before the rains come swooping in.


  2. Hi Bill – what an interesting assignment. Its great that it stayed with you all these years, too. I like to see the comparison of the two 60-year-old portraits…and your comment that you had an exaggerated view of how old 60 is when you were in your twenties. I think the older we get, the younger “old” seems!


  3. I have recently started doing some self- portraits simply because its been on my to do list for so long and because I missed doing some form of figure painting ( played around doing flowers) and I found that I look terribly serious, even morose in some of them….and you look pretty serious there too! So I cheated and did one from a photo. Not good, makes one want to nip and tuck! Sorry about your wife.


  4. Andrea, be careful what you wish for. Do you really want to be 20 again? with all those hormones and everything? Dinner on the river deck sounds great.

    Hi Maggie, thanks for your comment. 60 did indeed seem impossibly old to me when I was 23. It’s not so bad, now that I’m here. A pleasant surprise.

    myoilpaints, the serious look comes from concentration. When I’m doing self portraits, I don’t often remember to look at the whole impression I’m making and am surprised when I see how gloomy my expression is. Working from a photo is one way past that. Thank you for your condolences


  5. I think you did an amazing job of imagining your self at 60…I am always surprised at how scowly I am in my self-portraits, but I sorta like those, because I feel forced to “cheese, please a smile for the camera” at all other times…Your paintings on this site are really amazing, If discipline isn’t your strong suit, then inspiration surely is.


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