Sunday, April 30, 2006

Never Paint a Pirate

This was my art weekend at Anna's. Oh, my! We 'did' artichokes on Saturday. First we used charcoal, to warm up, and then we did a pencil rendering. It is always amazing to me how something that you really think you know, like an artichoke or an apple or a coffee mug, changes when you really look at it, study it, pay attention to it in great detail
Anna had us look at the little thorns on the top of each leaf with a magna-fying glass and it was a revelation to see all the colors, from yellow to sienna, purple amd pink.

Today we started doing self portraits. Man, you should have heard all of us whine! The rooms echoed with the moaning and groaning. The various ways each of us found to prolong beginning was amazing. Rena in particular was almost frantic to do something, anything, other than pick up a pencil and start sketching. She is such a beautiful lady, too. Yet each of us, from the beautiful to the average, yeah, even the mousey (!), we all resisted in one way or another. It is hard to draw your own face. For me, a big part of the problem is what I see in the mirror is not me. It's not how I feel, how I 'see' myself inside my own head. I look in the mirror and it's Grandma looking back at me. When did I turn into my own(beloved) grandmother? I will catch a reflection of myself in a shop window and I am always surprised. So to pick up a pencil and look at a photo, or into the mirrors that Anna had cut for each of us, was hard. Really, really hard. I did a sketch and then started in on a canvas. I painted for a couple of hours and then, poof!, it was time to clean up and pack up and go home. I have made a start. It feels like a good beginning but there is so much to do, so many more layers of paint that need to be applied, so much more seeing to do. I'm not really sure, even now, that I want to see myself clearly enough to paint my own face. I don't know what I'm so reluctant to see, or maybe I'm afraid, but if so, of what? This is an odd experience. I know that many, many artists paint themselves over and over---Frida Kahlo, for example. I can't see myself doing that.

I guess I just can't really see myself.

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