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Self-Portraits Drawn

with Eyes Closed

Create spontaneous, playful, and thought provoking self-portraits. 

Focus on internal knowledge, side step your perfectionist tendencies, mute your inner-critic, and enquire into your unconscious holdings.

A response art technique to facilitate self-reflection, self-knowledge, and reveal countertransference

How does a series of self-portraits drawn with eyes closed facilitate art therapist self-reflection?

When we draw with the eyes closed, we reduce the control of one of our main senses. With sight temporarily suspended, the influence of external stimuli is reduced and we are able to better focus on internal sensations. Finding creative ways to reveal our internal experiences can help us to better understand our unconscious experiences.


Creating a series of images serves to document our experiences and as the series grows we can become aware of the changes, consistencies, and/or cycles within our experiences. These images can also serve as a witness to the challenging and rewarding aspects of our daily lives and the many roles that we play. 

Read up on the supporting theory and research

Elements of Portrait

Elements of your Portrait

Empty Portrait.jpg


Primary point of inquiry

  • Does the facial/emotional expression that you interpret in your image align with how you think you feel?

Space to contain visual aspect of art therapy


For Art Therapy response art:

  • Fill with a memory of client artwork

For general use:

  • Fill with imagery that represents what is most alive inside of you at this moment -OR- with something that you need for your wellbeing


Steps for Creating your Self-Portrait

Summary of Process

  1. CREATION of your basic self-portrait drawn with eyes closed*

  2. Initial REFLECTION

  3. REVEALING your image

  4. secondary REFLECTION

  5. FILLING in the vessel with a memory of client artwork

*your basic self portrait is the image you draw with your pen, without any colourful applications, as seen in the image above​


  • Center your pen on the page

  • Imagine that you're looking at your reflection in the mirror. With eyes closed, draw this image of yourself. Focus on your face and particularly on the features of your face that express emotion. Keep your eyes closed.

  • With eyes closed, add a vessel-like body to the portrait

  • Still with eyes closed! Cover or hide your image and move it aside 

  • Open your eyes

  • Write a reflection about how you are feeling at this particular moment. What is most alive inside of you? What are you most aware of?

  • Recommendation: Take time and space between creating and reflecting on your image. It may help you gain new perspectives on your experiences.

  • Reveal your image to yourself. See below for prompts for self-reflection

  • Write a second written reflection to capture your interpretations of the image and how this information informs your understanding of yourself


Prompts for Self-Reflection

  • What emotional expression do you interpret?

  • Does the drawn/interpreted emotional expression align with your known emotion?

    • If YES, what does that do for you?

    • If NO, reconsider your experience. Might this emotion fit somewhere into your experience? Take alternative perspectives



  • The alignment of your portrait

  • Are elements contained and where they should be?

  • Did you forget any elements? What might this symbolize for you?

Prompts for Self Reflection


This technique is designed to be quick and accessible to help increase your ability to make art every day. Initial self-portraits can be drawn as quickly as you want (I have drawn one in under 10 seconds before) and then it is up to you on how much time you spend reflecting on the image and filling in the vessel

If you want to use this technique to reveal countertransference responses, create a quick image after you have finished a session with a particular client. Focus your written reflection on how you feel after your session, what are you most aware of, what is alive inside of you immediately after finishing the session with that particular client. Focus your secondary reflection on this client as well and try to take alternative perspectives on the session. 

Sometimes you may create an image that you don't like or that brings up negative feelings. On these days, it isn't necessary to push yourself to reflect on the image. Just make a quick note about the feelings that come up for you. It has been my experience that these images often have a powerful message for you but you won't be able to learn from it until you're ready. Distance helps.


Some days you might not have the time or will to fill in the vessel. This is ok. This too is a message for you.


Honour what you need in the moment.  


100 Days of

Self-Portraits Drawn with Eyes Closed


Join our community as we create a self-portrait drawn with eyes closed every day for the next 100 days. We would love to see your process


  • If using as a response art technique specific to clients -Remember your ethics. Do not post images of client artwork or images that otherwise are easily identifiable as client artwork. 

  • Post only what you are comfortable sharing with the public

  • Be gentle with the images and reflections of others. This is a safe space for everyone

  • Connect to our community by adding the hashtags above to your posts (#artofselfcare #100daysofselfportraitsdrawnwitheyesclosed)

  • You can join us at any time. Take a break if you need and come back when you are ready. 

100 Days Community

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Questions and Comments

Thank you - I'll be in touch with you soon

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