Sunday, March 30, 2008

Self -ishness

The one and only self portrait of me in existence. Oil on linen, 14"x16"

This was done six years ago during a residency on Westport Island, Maine. It was a great experience, and it was the first time I really threw myself into painting en plein air. And whenever the weather was really lousy, I would work in the gorgeous studios in front of a mirror. This was the result. Not too bad, but I daresay I've come a long way as a painter since then.

Should I do a new one? I'm interested, but perhaps more interested in portraits of others, not to mention the figure and the landscape. The phenomenal Jacob Collins does them quite often, for reasons known only to him. They seem like a cross between academic exercise and memento mori to me. I know that the wonderful Maine artist Martha Miller (see also blog link to the right) does them not only because she adores the portrait, but also as a narrative to reflect, and not just record. Perhaps I feel that my self-reflection is already present in part in all my work - I don't know, really. It's not an imperative for me. There are visions I'm really longing to fulfill, and an SP is not on the list at the moment.

Should I consider it more strongly? If I get any feedback at all, I may.


Martha Miller said...

Of course you should do another one! Why not? (this advice is coming from a self-portrait junkie...)
You're right, tho, all our work is self-portraiture. I've done some plein air work and truly enjoyed it but my guts lead me back to the figure. This is a wonderful self-porrait! You are so technically skilled - I could picture your self-portraits (if you choose to do more) veering in the direction of say, Gregory Gillespie? Or maybe not that wacky - maybe Brett Bigbee? Do you know his work?
Happy painting!

Rob S. said...

Ha ha - should I be surprised at your nudging me towards a new self-portrait? Thanks for the lovely compliments! I know Bigbee and Gillespie both well. I've seen collections of the latter at Forum in NY, and I saw some of Bigbee's work in a nice show at the Farnsworth 2 years back. Both are amazing in the genre of introspective portraits, self or otherwise. Were I to lean toward one, it would be Bigbee's iconic and quiet power in his work. Gillespie is more challenging for the viewer. Either way, if I could ever capture such feeling in my work, I would be more than pleased.

Diana Gibson said...

Oh most certainly do another and another and another! Self portraits are the most intriguing of all portraits because we reveal something quite personal about ourselves on the canvas, something intimate that only we can know. The viewers on the other hand can witness our focus, concentration, wistfulness and our penetrating gaze. I have always found self portraits to be very revealing of my inner self. They can be difficult to paint at times because there has to be such candor with oneself when painting, that sometimes one has to surmount barriers in order to dig in and find the inner being. Often we look at ourselves in the mirror on a daily basis, but do we REALLY see ourselves? The self portrait delves into the psyche of the painter. Paint more selfportraits!!!!! :)