It sure feels good to be back to the kind of work that I love and am better at - with the one on the wall finished and the other one well on its way in a clean and newly re-organized studio - though I still have a bit to do! Thanks to my crazy back I have to pace myself and just do a bit at a time, but even then it became clear that a cleaning pause was required and who am I to argue? Anyway, I was glad enough to be able to start this new painting on a larger canvas that I had sitting waiting for me; it has progressed a lot since this photo was taken and is now starting to find its final form though a lot of details and adjustments are still to come.
Otherwise it has been a busy time and my quest to tidy up and update everything has spread to both inside and outside with the gardening maintenance taking more time that I would like - what with weeding, watering, de-mossing and so on which I don't enjoy at all. My roses are looking amazing and flowering profusely so dead heading is needed as well as tidying them up - a job I don't mind and the payback is wonderful.
It will probably be my last painting in a while as there are many more chores waiting for me and I have a deadline of sorts, which is just as well or they might not be done. All of September will be occupied with visits from family members from Denmark and I am aiming for having as much as possible done in time to be able to enjoy spending time with them; I haven't seen my nephew and his family for about 12 years while my brother and sister-in-law were here three years ago - and with the world the way it is, who knows if and when I will see them again.
Such is the price of leaving your home country.
- - - and what a struggle it was!
I must surely be looking for punishment and I knew very well, that this straight frontal view would be really difficult without interesting lighting or other elements to create relief - but that was the challenge I set myself.
I can't say that I'm happy with it - and the photo doesn't really show it at its best, especially colour wise - but I realize that it has reached a point where I better leave it alone as the study it was meant to be; and I hope that I'm a little closer to understanding how to approach a self portrait where you do not have a living model to look at in order to be able to judge the real dimensions, the colours and the play of light and shadows in real life - for the fact is, that the camera doesn't help much. It flattens everything, doesn't pick up subtle details at all and does NOT reproduce colours accurately at all - and neither does the mirror that distorts and reverses everything on top of that. The main problems for me are as always the colours, specifically the skin tones, and how to make the skin look alive and not like even coloured plastic, as well as how to get the painting to work overall with colour and form blending as a unified whole that I can accept. Painting is as different from drawing as night is from day, because you only have to cope with line and value and that has always been fairly easy for me; below are two examples both drawn from life years ago: the first is from 1988, the other from 2003.
And I think that self portraits are doubly difficult because none of us really know how other people see us - and how we see ourselves may not be the image we project at all; especially as one grows older there can be quite a discrepancy between the person inside and the outer reality - and how brutally honest do you have to be? Are you trying to just describe the outer shell in detail or catch the soul of the real person inside - or probably a little of both? And of course there is also the requirements of the painting itself that should not be denied.
The artist creating the work I suppose can do what ever he/she choses - but I have had a lot of trouble trying to weigh the different options - and at this point I just need a break and the chance to get back to my regular work!
I'm sure that I will try again in a while - it remains a challenge, like a thorn in my side that cannot be ignored - and there are so many different ways that can be explored.