Twenty five years ago as a student I painted myself in my bedsit (left). This year I was invited to donate a portrait to the National Portrait Gallery’s Gala mystery portrait postcard exhibition. So I painted another picture (right). They make an interesting comparison. In the recent picture I found the looking and selection of colour much easier but at the same time this gave me a freedom to make decisions about the image. The recent picture is idealised – it has to be attractive so someone buys it to raise money for the npg – I have painted it in high key upbeat “happy” colours while at the same time I have kept the expression of my face, in contrast, looking slightly sad and wistful. It’s a trick Picasso played with his Weeping Woman (now in Tate Modern). The older picture is in oil paint on gesso board while the recent portrait is acrylic on paper.