Saturday, January 22, 2011

Onward and Upward - triple self portrait

After spending a month gestating ideas and doing preliminary photography and drawings,  I'm back in front of the easel with multiple canvases in progress. I switch around depending upon what's wet and what inspires me on any given morning.This post is about a self portrait. It's new territory, but I have got the strongest pull to do it. I just hope it works.
Here's an image of the 1646 triple self portrait by Johannes Gumpp that initially inspired me. His central image of the painter that's painting himself from a mirror image is very featureless, just a bit of his white collar and his hair break the dark shape.
My version is me painting a self portrait by looking in a mirror, where I see myself at 20 years old, but the portrait I am painting shows my actual age of 60.  This speaks to the fact that I do not see my aged self in the mirror. The exception is if I catch an unintentional glimpse of myself out in some store. I never recognize that old woman as me and it's always a shock. 
For the young self, I'm using a photo taken in 1970.  I remember taking the photo very clearly - what I was thinking, how my hair was pinned up, the way I held my shoulders - there's even a kind of muscle memory to draw on. made a lot of effort to duplicate a photo, getting as close as I could to the angle and attitude of the original.

I'll paint a 16x16" canvas of the 60 year old me first. It's what I'll work from when I do the big triple portrait. Spent the morning drawing. Used graphite and chalk for the grid and a few highlights. It's a starting point.
 I made myself dizzy trying to work out the bit about reversed reflected images and what that meant to my composition. I claim artistic license.
The most pleasant surprise is the establishing photo of the back view came out much more interesting than I thought it would.
I knew it was going to be complicated but I have a plan. It's good to have a plan.

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