Authenticity

Clarity, 48x48", Oil on Canvas

Last week I wrote a little about why I paint self-portraits.  Afterwards, I was thinking back to a comment a friend of mine made many years ago about how no matter who I was painting, my work always looked like me.  She didn’t mean, for example, that I seemed to draw my own nose on someone else’s face, but that I brought my own personality to whatever I was representing.  I still feel take this as a great compliment because it speaks of authenticity.  I was reading a book recently that touched on the idea of “creative sovereignty”* and the development of artists pursuing their own true voice.  People will respond to your truth if you put your entire self  into it.  As an artists circle of peers, galleries, and collectors expands so does the noise of other’s suggestions and opinions.  You have to see through your own lens though.  This is true no matter what you do.  It takes strength to filter a lot of that away but it is the only way to find your inner voice.  Only in believing in yourself does the true magic happen.

*”Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity”  Hugh MacLeod  (a fun read, you can get through it in one sitting)

Self-Portraits

Pause, 36x28", Oil on Canvas

I’ve been asked many times why I paint self-portraits.  The truth is that it kind of happened on its own.  I’ve always loved figurative drawing and painting and when I found myself home alone with a new baby I used myself as a model out of convenience.  I was sneaking in my painting time at odd and inconsistent hours, early in the morning or late at night.  As I worked, I found that my goal was less about recreating exactly what I looked like and more a record of an emotion or situation.  Now that I’ve been working this way for ten years I can see a timeline of my life and my development as an artist.  It’s been suggested to me that maybe I use a different model, but to me that would feel insincere.  Through painting, I am telling my story and I can only honestly paint my experience.  In fifty years I’ll be able to look back through my work and watch my life develop and my wings unfold.

“Cared For”

Cared For, 24x36", Oil on Canvas

“Cared For” is one of the last paintings I completed in 2012.  I can clearly remember the moment, while helping my son wash his hands, that I felt inspired to paint this simple task.  I cannot even begin to count the number of times I’ve helped my sons wash their hands over the last eleven years.  Come to think of it, many of the things that have filled my days over the past decade have been seemingly small and simple tasks.  These moments are easy to overlook but added up over the years become something more.  They are something learned, something shared.  Now that I’m at the point where no one really needs me to help them do things like wash their hands, I can see how all this time added together has resulted in something greater.  We are at a point of transition now.  This shift intrigues me as an artist but sometimes scares me as a person.  My boys are becoming more independant and instead of fighting the tide, I too need to grow and change.  It takes patience and small steps, not every day can be epic, but after a while our effort can get us to a place we never thought we would reach.

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