Self Portrait, Age 9 - crayon, chalk and watercolour
I thought I'd share a few self-portraits that I've done over the course of my lifetime. It's something I've always done. I remember as a child, lining up my dolls and drawing their portraits, choosing different clothing or hairstyles, and then doing my own.
Self Portrait, KCAI - Ink, watercolour, conte
When I went off to KCAI, one of my foundation year courses was to do a portrait a day for 5 weeks. 5 weeks is a long time when you are doing a portrait a day! It was probably my most favourite foundation year workshop because it was so illuminating to watch everyone work. Looking at oneself in the mirror every day, scrutinising every detail, anguishing over every accuracy or inaccuracy, battling against the demon of time - it was exhausting. But also, the most fun I've ever had in my life. All of us in the workshop would be in the studio late into the night, listening to music, chatting, surging through. We each learned how to let go of unnecessary details and get to the core of what we were trying to uncover about ourselves. A self-portrait could be a achieved in 3 lines if they are the right ones.
Movement Self-Portrait, used in the performance of "Getting off in Chicago?"
My next self-portrait study came to me through the medium of dance while a member of the Susan Warden Dancers. Incorporated into a long piece of choreography, each of us was given the task of doing a movement self-portrait. What did this mean? I had never thought about my movement as being another form of self-portraiture. As I watched the other dancers improvising and choreographing their self-portrait phrases, I could see each of them so clearly. One dancer just laid down on the floor - his self-portrait was about refusing to move. How perfect for him. Making difficult decisions challenged him, especially ones that would compromise the feelings of others. Mine evolved into an examination of angry outbursts which I found quite confronting. It wasn't how I wanted to be inside but yet it was a true representation of my emotional landscape and one that I've faced time and again over the years.
Butterfly Boy - Watercolour and conte
I returned to formal portraiture after our son Soren died unexpectedly from an infection acquired at birth. My craving to know him better helped me to produce numerous paintings and drawings of him and myself as his mother, incorporating my grief into my life as an artist. At the worst time in my life, I created some of my best and most loved work. I simply did not know any other way to release my mothering desires than to carve out his likeness on paper. It was my way of spending time with him as I tried to make sense of life.
Mummy and Magnus, by Magnus
Our 5 year old recently drew this portrait of the two of us, walking hand in hand. It's on the fridge as a reminder to me to be a good mommy. I love him so much, handful that he is. I find myself thinking a lot about my movement self portrait of years ago and how hard it is to completely change a core ingredient that makes us who we are. I also remember the lesson I learned in the self portrait workshop, to let go of unnecessary detail. I spend time most nights reflecting on the day, taking a moment to go over any conflicts and thinking through better solutions. I cue myself to step back more, let him find his way. I think about making memories, good memories. Every single day is a good memory opportunity. Let go of the detail. See the overall picture of your life.
Me, this morning, surrounded by tulle. It's Spring Fair tutu making time. 2 weeks to go!