With my first international show done (and all that that entailed), I am now mapping out a new series of paintings/portraits.
The concept was originally influenced by paintings I’d seen at the Musée d’Orsay.
Artists such as Manet and Moriset as well as Bonnard, Cézanne and Guaguin struck a deep chord, which resonates in me today.
I had seen these paintings a few times before but somehow had never truly ‘seen’ them. They are each of them exquisite, speaking volumes about the people, places and the times that they lived in.
One piece by Henri Fantin-Latour was particularly captivating. It was this portrait that haunted me and eventually began my recent explorations of portraiture.
My own explorations in portraiture have lead me naturally to investigate and portray my own surroundings; depicting the diverse people in my world with suggestions of the times we live in.
I don’t consider myself a portrait artist. I am neither skilled in nor interested in pursuing life-like portraits. I enjoy (and indeed feel it my duty) looking beyond who or what I’m looking at – seeking out and capturing the essence of a person or place.
As with all art, a good portrait is so much more than just what they look like. I endeavor to reveal a person’s character through my interpretation of how someone perceives the world. Their essence can not be defined by how much they earn or what they possess. Being a manual therapist offers me insights in to how a person carries themselves; there are clues to helping resolve physical issues, these same clues help me to interpret a person’s relationship with themselves, which of course influences everything else.
With a finer tuned inner-balance I feel I have a sharper tool to penetrate the surface of who I choose paint, and as I’m looking beyond clothes, hair, car, house… I find that I paint or draw men and women equally. In the end trying to capture the essence of a man – or perhaps that person’s individual ‘brand of masculinity’ – while painting that man. I strive for the same when painting women.
This formula of seeking essence over likeness has become my launch pad. I believe that I do this as a form of individuation – binding myself, piecing myself together… healing myself through what I see and how I interpret it. In a way, through scrutinizing another, I’m finding clues to and identifying with who I am and who I am not. This thought may sound silly, or simply incomplete, but I find that it’s working for me. It’s a process.
However I still get caught up in the vice of better drawing – needing to draw or paint things in better perspective or better volume with better shading… All the self-sabotage demons of my past that kept me from attempting to come back to art.
Above all I continue to monitor my own self; how I am doing physically, spiritually, emotionally. While I pray and meditate regularly and occasionally write out thoughts and feelings in a journal, my words tend to get in the way.
The only irrefutable tool that I can rely on for significant and conscious self-awareness is self portraiture.
When one is comfortable staring at ones self for hours it can be revealing – a meditation of sorts.
When one is decidedly not comfortable with delving ever deeper in to one’s true self… One must ask one’s self ‘why?’ (THAT’S what I like to draw!) and continue on digging – discovering, resolving and repeating.
When I walk into the studio to continue a piece that I may have worked on for days or weeks, I see something new every time. Something, perhaps a difficult area that I am proud to have overcome and that I painted well that fits with the piece as a whole, or perhaps something (another problem) that calls out to be addressed in such a way that it too fits in with the rest of the painting.
My life now imitates my art (Oscar Wilde) inasmuch as I am discovering, resolving and repeating. Whether it’s a portrait, a landscape (which is a kind of portrait) or a self-portrait, I am solving a problem and learning from it. In essence I am healing any one of a myriad of unspoken, unresolved traumata. When the piece leaves my easel, and takes on a new life on someone else’s wall it will have, for that buyer, the same healing capacity.
Funny how that works.
In the end, art call us in to our own stories and seems to be a therapeutic journey.
I’ll continue this story after a few days of evolving through my own.
Bye for now!