Imagine: you get up in the morning, look in the mirror and see nothing but a blank canvas. You can add your own eyelashes, a healthy blush and perfectly shaped eyebrows, even freckles if you like. Using a make-up brush you then add the finishing touches in colours to suit your mood. You can reinvent yourself every day. Like children do in a fuzzy felt book, with stick-on moustaches and pre-styled hairdos.
Not having enough (affordable) models, Vincent van Gogh also used to portray himself in various different poses. As an artist in one painting, and a well-dressed middle-class dandy in another, or a serious man-with-pipe. Or as a free-and-easy country lad wearing a straw hat. Funnily enough he did some of the sketches for these portraits on the backs of other paintings. That saved money for new canvases and meant he could keep both sides, as opposed to when he used to paint over an existing work.
This enabled him to maintain a high production rate during his labour-intensive Paris period. Despite their sketchy nature, the portraits were certainly not without merit. After all, the best ideas are conceived on the back of a beer mat… or on the back of a painting.