Due to the fact that Vincent van Gogh didn't have any money to hire models to pose for him he often painted himself. He painted this self-portrait in the winter of 1887-1888 when he was living with his brother Theo in Paris during almost 2 years.
He made use of the painting technique pointillism, however, in his own way. Pointillism is a painting technique that Van Gogh learned when working in the studio of Fernand Cormon. By using strokes Van Gogh created a sort of halo around his head.
This dynamic way of working was new to the art of painting and this portrait is a great example of this and also was a start to many more pieces painted in this way.