Monday, July 28, 2008

In Search of the Self

In response to Angela Graham's call for entries for a Portrait Exhibit at her gallery, I spent a couple of weeks dealing with the issue of the self portrait.

What, exactly, is it a portrait of? My personality, or my person? If I create a version of my personality, which one do I use? Those of you who know me understand that I'm in the throes of mid-life and new career, and you are not quite sure just who'll show up on a given day. Could be you'll be greeted by the enthusiastic emerging artist, ready to take on the world. Could be you'll be met by the "what-was-I-thinking?" version. Or the "turn the air conditioner up now" lady. Any of those folks come in a crying, laughing or sleeping version. Take your pick.

Those kinds of portraits are interesting ventures. The artist can hide behind all sorts of images, squiggles and paint globs. The heavy lifting is up to the viewer. I get to be whomever I want to be, and leave it to you to figure it out. The flip side of that is that personality peaks through regardless of how hard the artist tries to disguise it, and gets revealed despite all best intentions to put a better face on, well, your face.

So I put on my brave face, (pardon that pun) and went the physical person portrait route. Just me and my face. Since I used a mirror, and tend to make funny faces when I concentrate, you get the "just ate a pickle" face.

I suddenly admire and am amazed by artists who choose to share their self portraits with the world. It takes a bit of ego. You find out just who, or what you look like, and whether anyone's been paying attention.

To see more faces and their egos, check out Graham Gallery in Hastings, Nebraska. The month-long show opens in August.

What kind of portrait would you paint?


Karine said...

Hi Patricia!
Love your self portrait!!! It is soft, but contemplative. I am getting a lot of emotion from it. I have been obsessed with these things lately. I don't think any of mine look as effortless as this one looks. Nicely done, and congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Hey, just saw this, it's nice.