Free Self-Portrait Art Lesson and Newsy Update

By November 20, 2015Painting, Watercolor

So much has happened since returning from my recent EAT PAINT COOK Tour of Tuscany in October that I almost don’t know where to begin!  I’m already planning for next year’s trip ( Sign up here for Eat Paint Cook Tuscany 2016). In addition, three adult kids are now living under our roof, so you can imagine the changes in our home life!  In case you missed it, I also hosted the incredibly talented Rose Edin AWS, NWS, TWSA for a weeklong oceanfront workshop during October here in Myrtle Beach.  Many of you attended this fantastic week filled with lots of painting and inspiration.  We all learned more about how to use color and make it SING!

Rose Edin 2015 Workshop-

Rose Edin 2015 Workshop-

Since then, I’ve also attended a Springmaid Watermedia workshop with Ken Goldman.  There I spent an entire week learning to use my iPad for photo editing as a painter, with a focus on problem solving and combining imagery.  I know I’ll be able to use the information in ways that will definitely help my own work, and I look forward to using this mad new skill to help students improve their paintings.


Conway Commission- What Love Looks Like 2


Conway Commission- What Love Looks Like 1

The week I got back from Italy, I finally unveiled the 2 paintings above. They were commissioned by Conway Medical Center’s Diagnostic Facility.  (See, I told you I’ve been busy!) Those of you who study with me regularly know about these 2 large paintings (28 X 33 on watercolor, gouache and acrylic on Terraskin stone paper).  They are now hanging in the waiting room of the diagnostic center in Conway, SC.   It was a dream job, and at some point I will share more about the process of developing a finished piece of commissioned art.  It’s a difficult journey, and not for the faint of heart or the lazy!  For now, here a couple of photos of the unveiling.

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Julie Rajotte (Marketing Director for CMC) and the administration at CMC plan to give all their breast cancer patients a healthcare navigating folder containing a journal that features my artwork on the cover and throughout the folder.  It’s a beautiful use of my artwork.  Pretty thrilling actually! In addition, they asked me to develop an art-themed party for the breast cancer patients and their family members who attended the unveiling event.  I came up with this Self-Portrait Lesson for the occasion.  My goal was to give the participants an outlet to self-discovery and self-expression as they played around with a fun art lesson.


Try this FREE Self-Portrait ART LESSON  yourself. (Its a great idea for art journaling or the cover of your sketchbook!): Just follow these steps.  I’ve done it many times and every time is a revelation.  No two portraits are the same, and I predict you’ll enjoy the process:IMG_5071

  • Cut words out of magazines.  The assignment is to choose words that have meaning for you.  If you do this at home, just thumb through magazines/papers and cut out words and phrases that jump out at you.  Don’t overthink it, just cut out a bunch of words.
  • Next step is to glue some of those words (the ones that have the most meaning for you) onto an 8.5 x 11 inch piece of card stock or computer paper.  Anything goes…cut and paste like you’re back in kindergarten!  Let your inner child come out and play!  Make an arrangement that pleases you. 
  • Then do some writing.  You can glue letters instead of words and use those letters in sentences, or write around the words you’ve already glued down, but somehow the goal is to “fill the page” with your hand…your writing…your words.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  Use the words as prompts.  Nothing has to flow or go together.  There is no grade on this, and I promise you that nobody will take the time to read it.  Just write.  You may be surprised by what comes out of the pen!
  • Next take a clear plastic sheet protector and a sharpie marker, and use it to trace your face while looking at yourself in a mirror.  Hint- Tape the page protector on the mirror, hold very still and close one eye! When finished, slip your page full of words into the sheet protector beneath the portrait.IMG_5079
  • Painting and coloring is next…Use acrylic paints on the plastic sheet to paint your portrait image.  Think about leaving the skin area on the face “paint-free”  and allow your words to shine through your image on the sheet protector.  Another option is to use markers or crayons to add color to the paper inside the sheet protector.  Any way you add color is fine.  IMG_0107_2
  • When finished, your words are inside the page protector with your portrait drawn/painted over them. Here are a few examples of the images we created at the unveiling of my new paintings:

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All in all, this art therapy lesson was a beautiful way to give everyone the ability to illustrate and express their feelings and give voice to their inner world through art!  It was incredibly satisfying for me as their instructor, and the variety of results was very cool to witness.  I expected the patients to enjoy expressing themselves, however I was surprised and moved by how much the supporting family members seemed get out of the project.  It makes sense when you think about it.  When someone battles cancer it effects everyone in the family.  Often family members don’t have an outlet to express their own challenges in the struggle, because the focus is rightly on the patient, but that doesn’t mean that their feelings are any less real.  The family members’ needs just get put on the back burner while everyone is in battle mode.  It felt good to give everyone an equal opportunity to give voice to their inner worlds. It was very therapeutic for all concerned.


Art as therapy.  Art as autobiography.  Art as an expression of our inner worlds.   Every artist experiences this…sometimes we do it without realizing it.  We put our lives and our psyches out there on the paper and on the canvas for the world to see.   It can make you feel very naked.  But it’s oh-so-satisfying when it allows you to connect with someone else, or better yet, connect with YOUR TRUE SELF! If you haven’t tried it, you should!

I hope you go out today and give voice to your inner world by making some art.



My Wednesday Watercolor classes will resume 1-4PM in December with Christmas themed art cards as our holiday focus.   With over 30 unique lessons to choose from, I’m confident you’ll find something new to try.  Check my calendar online and reserve your seat today!

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Stay tuned for more workshop and travel opportunities…  As you know, space is always limited, and our workshops are generally full with waiting lists. I want those of you who travel with me through thick and thin to have every opportunity to participate.

Blog subscribers will be getting advance notice of the many new offerings that I have in the works for 2016, 2017, and 2018.  (I keep telling you I’ve been busy!) Subscribe today and have the advantage of being able to sign up prior to the general public for future workshops and classes.

Happy Painting y’all!


Share Love, Spread Light, DO ART!




Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at

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