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According to fellow Italian painter Giorgio Vasari, Raphael depicted his contemporaries in the scene as the philosophers. Bramante, bent over a chalkboard, is Euclid or Archimedes; Leonardo da Vinci is thought to be the model for Plato; and Michelangelo may be the face of Heraclitus. The artist couldn't resist including his own face in the mix: Raphael's curious face peeks out from behind the arch on the far right of the fresco, beside Ptolemy and Zoroaster. It's common knowledge that Michelangelo loathed the commission to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in the Vatican.


In a poem written for a friend in , the tempestuous artist griped about the long hours laying on his back: "My brush, above me all the time, dribbles paint so my face makes a fine floor for droppings! Michelangelo via Wikimedia Commons.

In the end, the Renaissance master was able to cleverly express his frustration -- and have some fun at the pope's expense -- when he took on the "Last Judgment" fresco for the altar wall of the chapel. In the center of the expansive painting, Michelangelo's horridly eyeless face sags, an empty suit of flagellated skin, from Saint Bartholomew's hand.

The Renaissance master imposed himself on the martyred saint, who is waiting to discover if he is off to heaven or hell after a grueling trial of faith. Before his untimely death at age 38, Caravaggio painted himself in many guises, most frequently as the Greek god of wine, Bacchus. In the last year of his life, he decided to include a self-portrait in a depiction of the victorious David proffering Goliath's severed head -- one of several versions Caravaggio made of the biblical story.

This iteration offers an unexpected level of emotional nuance to a usually gory, black-and-white tale of "might vs. Here, Caravaggio is not the youthful, good-looking David, but the defeated Goliath, his slack-jaw mouth confirming his slaughter. Instead of a look of satisfied victory on his face, David appears pensive and a bit mournful, perhaps even regretful, as he gazes at his prize. Scholars have surmised that the model for the young hero was Cecco, Caravaggio's studio assistant and purported lover.

The painting, then, has an unexpected psychosexual intimacy to it, one that is reiterated by David's sword, standing suggestively erect between his legs. Clara Peeters via Wikimedia Commons. Dutch still lifes seem straightforward, but often suggest complex meditations on mortality. While the technical difficulty of the genre and its intellectual conceits might have presented a barrier to access for female artists, women in the 17th century thrived in the genre.

Clara Peeters was among the most talented still-life artists of her day.


Many Dutch artists of the era painted lavish arrangements with oysters, mince pies and imported fruits and peppercorns on silver and gold plates, but Peeters favored humble displays of native dairy products like cheese and butter with peasant bread. Yet she couldn't resist showing off her painting chops in one still life featuring an array of cheeses, almonds and elegantly twisted pretzels. In the reflection of the ceramic goblet's pewter lid, Peeters carefully rendered her self-portrait, accurately distorted by the curve of the object.

As I made time for that I moved on to 3x week. I did small 8 x10 Paintings to be able to finish and stay motivated.

8 famous artists who hid self-portraits in their paintings

My skill level quickly improved with frequent practice. Reading and watching videos about technique helped me work through areas of uncertainty. Thanks for your ideas. This is some really good information about art classes. It is good to know that it would be smart to try to copy master painters art. That does seem like a smart thing to do because that is how the old masters learned how to paint.

It might be smart to look into taking some art classes if you are struggling with a certain concept. Thanks Dan for a very helpful article.

Artist's Work/Artist's Voice: Picasso: Lesson 1 | Oxford Art

I am biginning to be a self taught painter and started to make big pieces of art with the results l found it difficult to fill up the background of main subject in a satisfactory way. So making small size paintings is a good tip for me. Thank you once again for the very good article.

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Thanks for a newsletter. I really enjoy your articles. I do not feel disadvantaged by never having an art class. I picked up a paint brush for the first time in my life in November What a life changing moment. I have been blessed by having a lot of friend support on this new adventure. I agree that social media and participating in art events and forums have been helpful.

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In fact I have developed long distance relationships with professionals who have started giving me tips and directing me to resources You were recommended to me by one such person. I am a professional nurse. I would not do well in a formal art school. I am perfectly content to explore this and learn as I go. Thanks for all you do and inspiring others to paint. Nice article Dan, I have been Painting Landscapes for some 35 yrs. I have never tried to market my Art Work as I m not sure how or not comfortable pricing it. I have been teaching Art for some 20 yrs and quite honestly enjoy doing that more than Painting myself and get more satisfaction out of seeing the smiles on the faces of a brand new student.

Whats that old saying. Those who can do— Those who can t Teach. Thanks for you time. So nice to hear your story Dan, exactly the same with me. What a relief to hear there are others out there as well. The hardest part I find is not allowing jealousy of those who have had an easier route to take over.

Leonardo da Vinci

Cheers and Happy Christmas etc. A wonderful article I was looking for it very encouraging and helpful I have learned a lot and got confidence Great job Thank you. Thank you so much for the encouragement. I too about 20yrs ago dabbled in a bit of folk art but even when young in school I was always copying the work of different artists and topped my class in art.

Thank you so much. I call myself a lazy, procrastinating, amature artist wannabe for a good reason…. I choose to tackle a large canvas and get overwhelmed and once the painting is finished, I lay my brush down for a very long time. My paintings turn out good, or so my critics rave , but its not enough to keep me motivated.

I do believe ur information is exactly what I need to do to get me out of this never ending cycle. Thank u. Everything you have mention in this article, I am experiencing!

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Thank you so much for sharing this advice with amateur artist! I saved this so I can go back and read and remind myself of these inportant tips, ty!! Hi Dan, I have just started painting after 25 years. What should I do? Convert a bedroom try the garage but you need your own space…my studio is a very small bedroom with a bag window Far from ideal but its mine and I can close thedoor Just do the work and see what happens….