Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Oh Say Can You See

 I've come to realize that we share a strange, sometimes inexplicable phenomenon and that is the inability to really see ourselves. Well, maybe "inexplicable" is not quite the right term because if you think for a moment there are so many things that 'put the blinders on' our eyes. Of course , I can only really talk about my own experience and that is one deeply immersed in the waters of being a woman and the spirits know we women are almost schooled from birth to have a really messed up viewpoint about ourselves. However, as I walk about this beautiful city that I'm currently inhabiting - I see all these vastly interesting and hugely intriguing people all around me. But I'll give you dollars to donuts they are pretty much all feeling 'wrong'. (why I'd want to pay you a dollar for a donut escapes me - just like that saying does, but it does roll off the tongue like oil on a hot pan - and here we go again.....) 
Ok, moving right along before the brain can go down another rabbit hole - I think that we all mess up the visuals with so much 'other' our actual true picture gets lost. 
And why am I blithering on about this, well you may ask.
I had this brought home to me last week when I sat down and drew myself. My own face - not my mother's, not my usual 'made-up ones, not some old photograph. Nope, me looking in a mirror. And I was completely taken aback when I saw that I am really quite beautiful. 
You'd think as an artist that I'd be able to 'see' this but I haven't. And it made me think of all the countless times I have looked in a mirror and voiced those demeaning epithets to myself "you old bag; bleah, you look like shit" etc etc etc. How many times have I heard my friends say "Ugh! I hate myself in pictures."
No wonder. 
It has me musing on portrait paintings and the fact the vast amount of them are all pretty much geared to making the subject look swell. Putting aside the reason for doing so may have been you wanted the money for your work so it behooved you to 'tart it up'. Or that the model chosen was already visually pleasing, I'd say what we see just might not be a true picture.  There are very few artists that really give you all the warts - so to speak - Frida Khalo and Van Gogh come to mind - but if you look at contemporary portraiture it pretty much is still those visually 'pretty' visages. And may I add, that, yes, old men are often a subject matter but we seem to be more able to accept the craggy face time has given them so much more than women.
Anyjustputaframearounditway, I'm kinda going all over the map with this, aren't I. I think what I want to say is that I need to try to 'see' better. Let's try to get past those worn out tapes and start realizing what an incredible and vast canvas we are - the colors! the shapes! What a feast for the senses. I know I'm going to view the folks around me differently and try to envision how I'd paint them.......who knows where this will take me......

The Painting is by Jenny Saville and boy oh boy do I LOVE this young woman's work! She's well worth a Google

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