In anticipation of visiting the National Portrait Gallery in DC next week I created a self-portrait in charcoal. Robert, my husband whom I always ask for his opinion, said upon seeing it, “You look sad!” While in the process, I was very much focused on what I saw in the mirror, not trying to please – just trying to get it right. I thought about all the lines and wrinkles and sagging skin that time has caused. That certainly is sad, but I don’t think of myself as being sad – more inquisitive as to the process of both aging and of drawing.
Many artists do self-portraits. Mostly I guess as a stand-in for a real model, or to check in with the aging process or, in my case over the years, to get in some honest face to face time and to question one’s emotional state.
I titled this ‘Self Portrait with Mermaid Hair’. I have wanted to grow the brown dye out of my hair in order to see how white things had gotten. My husband requested that I don’t, because he thinks it makes people look 10 years older than they really are. I’ve always been one to do what I want, so my way of growing the brown out and not stressing my husband out, was to put a very temporary color in until I can just let it fade out to scary white!!!
I decided to look at some of my historic selfies, most of them are quick sketches before I had any knowledge of portraiture. I include them here, not for their artistic merit but because I think they are quite revealing. Even I think they look sad! Every time I can remember doing one of these, it was during a time of strife, indecision or alienation. My bachelor’s degree is in psychology and I think of these self-portraits as wrestling with the demons of discontent. All in all, I had a good laugh, grateful to be in a better place in my life and grateful for much wisdom that age has to offer.