To one degree or another, every portrait is a self-portrait. That familiar face in the mirror becomes our "fall back" when we are struggling.
Yesterday, in the lifedrawing studio, I did this portrait of Erin. I drew fairly accurately, but as I worked on the nose, it began to look more and more like my own.
Perhaps the best example I ever saw was in college. We had a black woman model in painting class, in a pose that lasted for 4 sessions, if I remember correctly. In group critique, two issues stood out.
One young white man had unconsciously given her his own face. When another student pointed this out, he laughed and said, "Yes, my fantasy!"
The other issue: I had used cadmium yellow for my highlights and mixing color. Everyone else, without exception, had used white. Everyone else's portrait looked like a white woman with a good tan. I had also used a deep purple for the lowlights, while everyone else had used black. I've always loved vibrant colors, and it paid off on that occasion.
I sold the painting and don't even have a photo of it anymore. So, I will close by sharing another portrait of my favorite model Brittany. I have drawn her so many times, that I no longer give her my own features. I am able to see her in her own, unique beauty.