Monday, 29 November 2010

Self Portrait

You may wish to look away now. Today's painting is a nude self portrait.

I did this years ago, as another part of the same Eagle's Wing shamanic course which birthed Cosmic Mother.

The assignment was to somehow create a representation of ourselves in the weeks between meetings. I had lots of lovely arty ideas with wonderful symbolism and abstract implications, but then I remembered this was not about pretty art.

This was an opportunity to dare to show myself totally honestly to a group of trusted allies.This was not a time for subtlety.

So I asked my then partner to photograph me naked and completely unposed; the full frontal if you will. No fig leaf cover-ups with my hair; not even a smile. 

The resultant photo was predictably cringe-worthy, but I painted what I saw as closely as I could.

 The chaos of emotion preceding this caused me to go a bit crazy with the background. A vibrant madness of multi-colour swirls kept me occupied for a while and delayed the painting proper.

Although I was free with my colours (I don't really have purple and yellow skin!), I stayed tonally accurate, which meant being truthful to my recently sunburned face and to those bits which had not seen the sun. Thus:

I even allowed the world to know that I have mismatched knees: one of my father's and one of my mother's:  

Interestingly, as I painted, I grew! My initial sketches gave me canvas space to move, to stretch if I needed to. But by the time I had finished, I was wedged hard between the top and the bottom.

This, I can now see, was very much what was happening in my life. I was growing, learning, finding strength and independence, even standing physically taller, and I was going to need to make big changes before that could be comfortable for anybody.

Self Portrait
Oil on Canvas
40" x 20"

So, although to some people I look uncomfortable here (and I was); for me this is a painting of quiet triumph. I was given a certain space to contain me and I pushed at the boundaries until I broke free.

And when I look at it now, I don't feel the cringe any more.

Sometimes, secretly, I even suspect there may be beauty here. Just maybe.


  1. Fascinating painting , fascinating narrative. This painting reminds me of the Artist Alice Neel.
    A wonderful artist and painter of “psychological portraits”'
    This painting is very daring, courageous, freeing and yes, beautiful.
    Thank you so very much for visiting and commenting on my blog.
    I look forward to seeing more of your work.xo

  2. Thank you Ramona. I researched Alice Neel and was wowed by her 1980 self portrait. Honest, free and beautiful, like I aspire to be.
    See you in blog land again soon. x


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